Ex-CM of J&K and leader of the PDP Mehbooba Mufti reveals the confused mindset of the ‘compromised’ politician when she opposes measures taken by the Modi Government to integrate the Union Territory into the national mainstream. She is, somehow, wedded to the idea that the Kashmiris are a people apart, whose identity and survival depends on maintaining a ‘separate’ identity. Her latest grouse is that people from outside J&K resident in the state will be allowed to vote in the elections. Having been part of a system that ensured political domination for a certain class as a kind of ‘reservation’, she is unwilling to give up that privilege.
First, the number of such ‘non-locals’ may be large enough to require fair representation, but it is fallacious to believe they will all prove to be BJP voters and tilt the elections its way, which is the actual problem for the likes of Mufti. She is even willing to play the Pakistan card to try and get her way, ignoring the fact that her supposed friends from across the border will follow their own interests and not hers. Earlier, the complaints were against the fresh delimitation that provided a fair share of seats to the people of Jammu.
The local political parties of J&K want elections to be held only after restoration of statehood, so that some kind of autonomy could be exercised. However, the Centre is reluctant in this regard because the terrorism problem may prove too much for a state government to handle. It would like the focus to be on development in accordance with the wishes and needs of the local people. Thankfully, Ladakh has been taken almost entirely out of this equation and can get along without the instability of the past.
A major challenge in restoring the democratic process is accommodating the regional parties and providing them some share of the cake. However, if the cards are played wrong by the Kashmiri leaders, they could find themselves shunted out into the cold by none other than the electorate. Recovering ground after that would become a major task. Adopting the right approach, now, might result in a reduced role but it will at least keep their politics alive. Otherwise what they fear the most may become their living nightmare.