After paying obeisance to New Delhi and dancing on its tunes for over four years since he occupied the chief minister’s gaddi in alliance with the Congress Omar Abdullah has suddenly changed his tune as a matter of political convenience. Though he has not defied his masters in New Delhi the chief minister has criticised the Union government on the issue of the execution of Afzal Guru, arrest of Liaqat Shah and the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Speaking in the legislative assembly on Monday Omar not only slammed UPA government for adopting double standards but also obliquely raised his party’s demand for the restoration of State’s autonomy to pre’1953 level. Ridiculing the slogan of “atoot aang” the chief minister asserted that the State’s accession to India was confined to only three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communications and accused New Delhi of eroding it. Intriguingly while in the Legislative Assembly Omar was blaming New Delhi for rejecting his demand for the revocation of AFSPA his government opposed a resolution moved by his own party members in the upper House seeking revocation of this draconian law. A clear case of doublespeak and double standards.
The NC has mastered the art of deception, duplicity and doublespeak to suit its political convenience, making its ideology, policy and political stance including that on the issue of autonomy hostage to its electoral politics and political power. Omar is not the first one in the ruling dynasty in J&K to act in this manner. The party has been changing its tune and compromising its policy from time to time for sake of power. True to the pattern, it entered into an alliance with the Congress after the 2008 election without having any common programme and despite their sharp differences on the issue of the restoration of state’s eroded autonomy. The question of autonomy has only become a part of the party’s political convenience and a slogan for elections. While in power the NC leaders maintain silence on this issue it is only on the eve of elections that they start shouting about autonomy.
For 22 long years after Sheikh Abdulah was undemocratically deposed as Prime Minister and arrested the NC under the platform of Plebiscite Front talked of raishumari the right of self-determination and (referendum) to decide on the issue of accession and struggled and suffered for it. However in 1975 Sheikh Saheb returned to power as chief minister through back door, without even seeking popular mandate, with the support of the Congress. And that too on the basis of status-quo. The party failed even to suggest the review of articles of the Constitution made applicable to J&K after August 9,1953, as envisaged under the Indira-Sheikh Accord. After coming to power Sheikh Abdullah always talked of New Delhi and Srinagar working on the same wavelength. However, the revived NC fought the 1977 elections on anti-India plank. Farooq Abdullah followed the same line and only on the eve of 1983 elections he entered into an alliance with Mirwaiz Farooq ( under the slogan of double Farooq) launching a tirade against New Delhi and accusing it of enslaving the people of Kashmir. He again entered into an alliance with the Congress for the sake of power and conveniently forgot about the party’s demand for the restoration of autonomy. He even rigged elections for retaining power.
Again, the NC boycotted the Lok Sabha election in 1996, stating that the party will contest elections only after the autonomy is restored to pre’53 level but soon plunged into the poll arena for the election to the State Assembly on the basis of status-quo when assured of power. The NC betrayed worst kind of political opportunism when it joined the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre with Omar Abdullah becoming the minister of state, despite the fact that BJP was not only opposed to autonomy but favoured doing away with the special status of the State and having closer integration. The party again thought of autonomy on the eve of 2002 elections when it got the resolution on autonomy passed by the State legislature. However, betraying its lust for power the party refused to come out of NDA even after the Union government contemptuously rejected the re
solution adopted by the State legislature. The NC even stood by Vajpayee government when no-confidence motion was moved against it in the Lok Sabha.
If Omar Abdullah and other NC leaders have suddenly started talking of autonomy, revocation of AFSPA and injustice to the people of Kashmir by New Delhi the reason for such change of tone is too obvious. That Farooq Abdullah continues to be a member of the UPA cabinet, which has been accused by Omar of discriminating against the people of Kashmir while continuing to be an ally of the Congress, expose not only the NC’s doublespeak and political chicanery but also worst kind of political opportunism. The party has been a prisoner of power politics with its sole objective to gain and retain power at any cost.