SRINAGAR: After being paralysed by the five-month-long 2016 uprising, pro-Indian parties in Kashmir have suddenly resumed their political activities to recover lost ground.
“Due to the PDP-BJP government’s conduct and incompetence, people have started demonising the entire mainstream. The space for the mainstream politics of all parties has been squeezed. In south Kashmir, which is the so-called bastion of PDP, there seems to be no space for the mainstream at all,” said National Conference (NC) provincial president Nasir Sogami.
“Due to the unrest, we had no activity. We want to reconnect with the people. So we came forward to listen to the people,” Sogami told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the NC has started contact programmes with people in all district headquarters. The interactions are mostly about the government’s failures, he said, on matters like lack of electricity, rations, and increase in power tariff.
“We also talk about the West Pakistan Refugees and other sensitive issues taken up by the PDP-BJP government. We are doing this because the PDP has become a tool for the BJP to fulfil its agenda. NC will counter such moves,” Sogami said.
Vice President of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Ghulam Nabi Monga said that the party has increased the frequency of its political activities in Kashmir, which had become dormant in the past six months due to “unfavourable circumstances”.
“Due to the unrest, we could not hold any activity. This time the unrest had spread to every nook and cranny of Kashmir, and in almost all the rural areas,” Monga said. “It is true that the unrest has shrunk the space for the mainstream. It has shrunk even more the space for the BJP-PDP government.”
In a bid to reconnect with people, Monga said the Congress is now conducting conventions and rallies across Kashmir. “We want play a constructive role. We have started to gear up. We have conducted many conventions at block and district headquarters level. We have scheduled more activities in the comings days,” he said.
Asked if the party wants to listen to the demands of people that were made during the months-long uprising, Monga tried to shift the answer saying the Congress will be promising only what it can deliver.
General secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Nizamudin Bhat, however, denied any shrinking of the space for pro-Indian parties. “No political party can afford to sit idle. I do not buy this argument that the space has been squeezed,” Bhat said.
“Disruptions do not mean that we (mainstream) have no space in Kashmir. The activities were paralysed due to the disruptions, but we are now resuming our work. Our dedicated workers are participating in our political activities,” Bhat said.
The PDP recently conducted two public rallies, one on the death anniversary of the party founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and the other inside an indoor stadium on the occasion of Sayeed’s son Tasaduq Mufti joining the party.
The PDP’s partner, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been claiming that its political activities in Kashmir are continuing without interruption. Office-bearers of the BJP’s youth wing in Kashmir have told Reader that they now have eight lakh members in Kashmir alone.
The BJP also conducted its first-ever torch procession in the heart of Srinagar to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.