I brought the nettle, sowed the nettle, and then the nettle stung me, a Kashmiri proverb, appropriately fits people who supported the PDP in getting the party not just in power but also making their supporters crawl.
The reference here is to the people in the separatist camp who tried to change the assembly arithmetic by informally and implicitly asking their cadres to support PDP-presumed to be a soft separatist party-to keep the BJP- a potential threat to their existence and the overall political welfare of the people of Kashmir -out of power. This illusion was shattered the moment the PDP smelled power and in a volte face allied with the very same party ( the BJP) that they had campaigned and sought votes against.
In retrospect, it would appear that the people who supported the PDP wanted the National conference out of power under the guise of a slogan that BJP was to be kept at bay (which was the campaign theme of the PDP)
Here a contextual foregrounding of the genesis of the PDP is warranted.
The party had marked its entry into Kashmir politics by attending the funerals of militants, mourn with mourners, making statements against the counter-insurgent groups- especially the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir police, display of placards showcasing barbaric acts at the hands of forces and so on. Even a statement made by Mehbooba Mufti in 2008 during the Amarnath land row, that Hindu radicals in Jammu had trident in one hand and an Indian flag in the other which made it difficult for forces to go against them. The implication of Mehbooba was that under the guise of the national flag they were doing anti-national activities.
The acts of burnings of and assaults on Kashmiri truck drivers, setting private vehicles of Kashmiris on fire burning of police stations and so on too were attributed, by the PDP, to Jammu Hindu radicals.
By virtue of this posturing, Mehbooba solicited people to support the PDP. The irony is not only the gullible masses of Kashmir supported the party but people in the Jamaat ranks, other separatist groups also extended their critical support. (The JKLF stands exonerated here as it stayed away from this trend and phenomenon). Those who supported PDP had to go jail whether in terror funding cases or in other activities that were deemed antinational.
The convergent point or the point man between the PDP and so called separatists , be it soft or visible ones, was none but PDP’s Naeem Akhtar, once termed by a journalist colleague in his report as the Chanakya of Kashmir, who seemingly was a mentor to senior ideologues – once spit in the name of mainstream politics- of Kashmir resistance.
People in groups would go meet late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. A group, sources privy to, was once an important group for resistance camp in advising and devising the strategy for separatists, fell in the lap of the PDP. Their justification and rationale would be that if PDP was doing what people in the resistance camp can’t afford to do, what was the harm in empowering them?
Even the lobbying for mandates was done by people from Jamaat, who once claimed to have been part of resistance. Two members, as per a source, from Pulwama wanted to have a mandate for a man of their choice which didn’t mature as PDP had their preconceived script to have new faces in the assembly.
New faces in politics with zero experience won, changing the assembly arithmetic by making the 20 year old party emerge as single largest party with 28 seats-majorities of these from Kashmir.
The second largest party to win 25 seats in Jammu and Kashmir was none other than the BJP, against whom PDP had launched a crusade of rhetoric. There was hardly any rally where PDP had not said that they wanted to keep BJP away from power.
The PDP’s lust and craving for power took no time to shape as they shook hands and allied with BJP, leaving their supporters high and dry. This was a matter of pure power politics; there was nothing personal about it.
Those who dig graves for their old enemies fall into their own trap. National Conference, in fact, remained out of power but PDP became the ally of BJP with a façade and patina of the so called “Agenda of Alliance” again giving fodder to people who supported them. These people started justifying the alliance as a strategic move by holding that this “Agenda of Alliance” would keep BJP underneath the foot of PDP without realizing the power , real agenda and mandate of the BJP.
The BJP, seeking guidance from Nagpur, devised and designed a module as to how to make the nouveau party crawl. The ironic bottom line is that those who overwhelmingly supported the PDP in elections covertly and implicitly are spending their terms in jails and those who are out breath as per the choice of this ruling party, which is headed by Mehbooba Mufti.
—The author is a senior Journalist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org