The chief minister throws up a challenge for Hurriyat Conference. `Participate in elections and prove your representative character’. There might be some people within the Hurriyat camp testing the water before actually announcing their arrival in the mainstream politics. Well, no need to dub them agents, black sheep or fifth columnists sponsored by India to cause dissension in the ranks. CM’s statement needs to be seen from a historic perspective. We need not go into an unrecognizably remote past, just as back as 1987.
To prove one’s `representative character’, no one disputes, one has to have a firm belief in the participatory democracy. A democracy where means to attain power are peaceful. Where victory and defeat is to be taken as the only two inevitabilities. Where competitors are not bullied out of the fray. And where whichever party emerges is allowed to emerge. But that unfortunately didn’t happen in 1987. Instead candidates whose writ ran larger made the better of the situation. That was the last peaceful ballet exercise (before Kashmir fell to bullets). It’s perceived as farce by even the mainstream politicians of Kashmir. Denying Muslim United Front the political space set the stage for a tragedy we all are still going through. Though MUF then couldn’t have replaced National Conference, but they could have emerged as a formidable force. That was the way the institution of democracy could have been strengthened. Smelling subversion, Farooq Abdullah ensured that MUF does not mount the throne.
The then New Delhi government (to which Kashmir seemed to have become a virtual Pakistan) threw their weight in favour of National Conference lest the valley slips away. Seen in a larger perspective, MUF of yesteryears is the Hurriyat Conference of today. Denying the former their `representative character’ proved the nastiest thing to have happened to Kashmir. Through the eruption of violence in 1989 couldn’t be completely ascribed to the rigging in 1987, but who can afford to dismiss ’87 as a prelude to ’89.
Once Omar Abdullah offers Hurriyat a democratic platform, he must not miss the point that it’s his own party that has sown the seeds of the whole conflict by denying MUF the due they deserved. If his father once promised to dissolve assembly should Hurriyat decide to fight elections, it’s the same man who always wanted to share power with himself only. Democracies don’t take roots once elections are turned into a battlefield where the mighty crash their way through the weak. Presume Hurriyat makes it to the top (by the way, there is no harm imagining the impossible), will NC let it rule?