Conviction or convenience?

One wonders where to place the alliance and how?


‘—A man cannot ride you unless your back is bent.’ (Martin Luther King) 

Addressing his maiden press conference in Jammu, soon after taking oath as chief minister of JK state, Mufti Muhammad Sayed said that PDP forged alliance with BJP ‘out of conviction and not out of convenience.’ A week before in an interview with NDTV, he said that they were negotiating with BJP ‘out of conviction, not compulsion.’ 

Looking at the face-value, the claim sounds hollow by the one who heads government formed after cobbling ‘North and South poles’ together. Laws of physics though defy the logic behind the ‘great miracle’, nevertheless it happened. We are a living testimony for the stunning embrace. How can we deny our own eyes. 

We are told that the confluence of the two opposite ideologies has materialized at the call of conscience, what they hail as ‘conviction’? But unlike convenience, conviction refuses grafting. It does not make one compromise on identity. Its very temperament is against the hybrid culture. Its moorings glue it to the belief basics. Unless it falls to the tantalizing aroma of power lust or fortune-making, it articulates its soul out fairly and fearlessly. Convenience, on the other hand, pushes you on the descent. It explores the mid point of, what they call, ‘reconciliation’. A marriage between positives and negatives. Not difficult to guess the baby evolved of this marriage. Opportunism is not distant tribe, it has sibling relationship with conviction. 

While stitching alliance with BJP, Mufti did nothing unusual, unexpected. He did what his predecessors kept doing since last six decades. From legendary Sheikh Abdullah to Omar Abdullah down on the line, whosoever held the reins of power felt the compulsion of skinning their conscience. Their flirtatious nature to embrace power, at any cost, prodded them to do anything they could do. Speaking emotions during elections and then making a volte face characterized the political class ‘mandated to rule’. More the emotional blackmail, more the rigging of trust. 

Mufti sahib needs not to ferment morality from what is his purely a political convenience. In this ‘art of possibilities’ he hugged the monster he had promised to chase it away. But the hug did not come without extracting its pound and a deep bleeding gouge at the face. It scrubbed Mufti and his party off the pride rooted in party’s Kashmir-specific agenda. In other words Kashmir nationalism. From ‘not an inch’ retreat on his poll manifesto he went forward to negotiate ‘out of conviction’ what satisfied his perpetuity in ‘stable government’. 

When you say it is alliance of conviction, it ipso facto negates the veracity of earlier statements. That shows shelf life of the electoral promises and manifestoes is terribly short -from filling of forms to indelible finger mark. Backing out from the earlier commitments conveys the fatigue. You smell stink now and, therefore, explore other “hygienic” devices to “wed” the two opposites. 

Mufti promised ‘no compromise’ on Article 370. He promised revocation of AFSPA within one year from entire JK. He promised return of land under army’s unlawful occupation. He said he was mandated to get back power projects (starting from Salal and Uri ). He declared he will butt Delhi on royalty of projects and seek compensation in crores of rupees to losses state suffered due to Indus Water Treaty. He sought support to fight against ‘communal and divisive forces’ and preserve demography of Muslim majority state. His self rule slogan, a step ahead of autonomy, better not be mentioned. It lifts us up on wings of ecstasy to smell some thing Huryat has sealed the copyright of. 

The 16-page ‘Agenda of Alliance’ BJP and PDP signed to abide by, in line with other documents, hailed `historic’, is another doublespeak to camouflage power hunger. And frolic in the belief that people are too naïve to dig the intent. 

Self rule , that PDP cashed on fulsome has been put on the carpet. The new gimmickry (and mimicry too) is that ‘ nobody can touch Article 370’, as if PDP’s ‘soft separatism’ was meant to maintain its present status(husk), not ‘restore to state 1947 position and glory’ as the party leadership kept blowing the trumpet of. Let us stomach it for their non-availability of numbers in assembly. However, its bending on Sharnarthees (West Pakistan Refugees) and not taking a firm stand in accordance with the provisions of the state is disgusting . Instead it pleased BJP by agreeing , what they unjustifiably and cunningly puts as, ‘one time settlement’ of refugees. Deluges that visit one-time leave nothing to retrieve.

There is nothing ‘humanitarian’ to plead at the cost of others’ miseries, nay calamity. Land held by army is sensitive issue and party vowed to return it. Alliance Agenda though talks of returning land taken by army in violation of provisions of law, it chains PDP to agree ‘ except in a situation where retaining the land is absolutely imperative in view of specific requirement’. Whose authority is to prevail to decide what merits ‘specific requirement’ ? Obviously not sate government’s. Thus dice is kept rolled in favor of the powerful. 

That said and done, what Mufti did in ‘reconciling’ two extremes, other Indian mainstream leaders, in particular Abdullahs , would have capitulated to far worse imperious demands of BJP. The buoyancy of spirit Mufti demonstrated in prolonged negotiations to explore midway is not in the bone marrow of NC and its leaders. A phone call is all that to show up its hip gyrations