It was a storm in teacup. That is how I looked at the ripples caused within a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHCM) by the statement of its former Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat. He had stated that the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir ‘were not practically applicable in the present time’. He also asked the multi-party forum to join hands with the National Conference and the PDP and drafting a common minimum program with the two parties that believe in the finality of the accession of the state with Indian union and have been seeking some concessions within the framework of Indian Constitution. The two parties have been demanding autonomy and self-rule, which when read between the lines are synonymous.
The APHC (M) calling for a joint political front with political parties that it has been denouncing as ‘quislings’ for their stand on finality of accession of the state with Indian union does not suggest only flexibility in its stand but a paradigm shift. He articulated these views while addressing a gathering at his native village Botengoo in Sopore. The former college teacher and employees’ leader catapulted’ to the central stage of Kashmir politics during nineties has a right to his views. I am not here to censure him for his statement, as a friend put it, for removing the very raison d’être of the APHC (M). I am no one to ask for his removal from the ‘group of seven’ constituting the core group of the political forum. He has made similar statements in the past also and touched raw nerves within the APHCM and remained in the spotlight for some time. Then maintained long silence till next opportunity. This may be his modus operandi for remaining relevant. I may be chronicler of sorts of the contemporary Kashmir but I am none to comment on his meteoric rise in politics after the 1987 Assembly elections. How he made it to the chair of the forum against veteran politician and leader Abdul Gani Lone, in no jigsaw puzzle but I leave it for Syed Ali Geelani to tell us candidly and truthfully in the second volume of his autobiography.
If Bhat has violated the professed ideology and the constitution of the conglomerate, it is for the party to decide and act. If the forum has decided to write its own obituary or put an epitaph on it as done by the formidable Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front in 1975. How a scribe could stop it.
Why I started my today’s column with an explanatory note. This question calls for an answer. There is a reason for this. On Monday, May 7, the day statement of Bhat was reported in our newspaper, in Mushtaq Enclave, of Residency Road I was confronted by a group of young, not that young leader’s, members of the General Council of APHC (M) with salvos like: “You columnists are timid. Why cannot you dare these leaders and tell them you cannot change the ‘title of the movement’. Expediency has become your second nature. Why are you covering up political ‘double standards and duality of the APHC (M)? You are analyzing every damn thing under the sun but are shying away from analyzing the negative implications of these double standards on the ‘movement. The movement nursed with blood of hundreds of thousands is not their fiefdom they have no right to alter its course according to their whims and fancies. These people have been ignoring the real inheritors of the movement like Muhammad Azam Inqalabi, with forty-seven years fearless and committed investment in it and many who resurrected this movement with all vigor from the grave where it lied buried for fifteen years after the Indra- Sheikh Accord.”
I choose not to enter into any argument with this group of leaders burning with rage and anger against their own party leadership. Having been close witness to an era from close quarters. Moreover, having seen popular leaders Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg with complete sway over masses at the peak of their eloquence making statements against their professed beliefs not affecting the title of the movement I dismissed the statement as nothing beyond a croak in a well. History testifies that statements by political leaders towering, taller, dwarfs or pygmies (with no popular base) do not affect the status of the disputes recognized by international community unless the contending parties decide to resolve them either way. I see no reason to comment on the statement in question. True, such statements are splashed across in New Delhi press, make headlines in newspapers and provide moot points for political gossipers but in reality, they do not mean much. These however can have two pronged effects: they either can cause cracks within the organizations or alternatively can prove catalytic for bringing about purging and reorganizations of the parties. It all depends upon the political aptitude, knowhow and maneuverability of the dissenting leadership within the organization.
There is dissatisfaction, disenchantment and dissension within the APHC (M) was obvious at the press conference attended by top leaders of its General Council. However it needs to be seen that if the dissenting leadership within the party can translate the opportunity for engineering restructuring of nineteen year old political forum and transform it into a viable political organization competent enough to take decisions on its own.
On the strength of history, I have written in the past also no serious political movement whether for short term economic goals or long term political objectives have been led by political forums. Forums, more particularly confederations of political, religious and trading parties of diverse ideologies are meant for debating and discussing the issues confronting the society and not for leading the political movements. I have not come across any example where forums have led political movements of bigger magnitudes and concluded them. The nineteenth and twentieth centurys that are seen as centuries of political assertions and movements in the world have no example were movements have been led by forums. The forum politics is more susceptible to machinations……
Thus timid spoke.
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