To err is human, to blame it on someone else is even more human. After almost two years of a miserable performance and four months of a freeze on all activities, at least in the Valley, chief minister Omar Abdullah is busy trying to find villains for his government’s non performance and is finding suitable ones in the separatist camp. His latest call to the separatists is to delink politics from development and allow his government to carry on with development works. If his wrong political moves unable to counter the writ of the separatists, he may as well have no business holding on to the throne and simply blame the separatists and the ongoing agitation for all his failures. Such rhetoric at best is aggrandizement of his own admission of failures of his governance. While the present agitation of street protests and hartals responded with curfews and brutality may have brought much of activity to a grinding halt, this can be no reason to shirk the responsibility of the monumental failures that had been building up much before this difficult and complex phase of politics in Kashmir Valley started. Before the spate of killings and the vicious cycle of shutdowns and curfews began, his government had one and a half years to prove its mettle but failed under the weight of corruption and inefficiency. That both the coalition partners in the government did not even have a common minimum programme in place during that long spell of time is a striking reflection of the abysmal failure of the government on all fronts – political, economic and development. Despite such a long time, the government did not have its act together and both coalition politics and factionalism within the two major coalition allies bogging down everything from the much needed political initiative to getting down to basics like governance. The blackberry chief minister who kept talking about e-governance could not ensure that the press of a button could translate to action on the ground, and probably forgot that the keys of his blackberry could neither perform the magical act of planning, much less executing them on the ground. When all that the government has been busy doing is twiddling thumbs, engaged in erroneous political wrongs leading to the present mess or building castles in the air, it is pointless trying to pass the buck.
It may not be misplaced to say that the present mess is both a doing of mounting political blunders, by successive regimes in New Delhi and in the state, including the present government, and also the recent flop show of governance in the state. Though the present unrest stems from the long pending unresolved dispute of Kashmir and has been fuelled by a continuum of human rights violations, the Jammu and Kashmir coalition government’s abject failure in both adequately responding to the human rights crisis and reaching out to the people with their day to day needs is what converted the pent up anger into a rage that one witnessed in recent months. For such failures, he need not look for scapegoats elsewhere, least of all within the separatist camp for such a lopsided logic only ends up proving the virtual weakness of his authority. Governments are not expected to crumble under pressure of unrest. They are supposed to get their act together and find ways of performing, not calling upon those who oppose them to make way for them to carry on with development works, allow law and order machinery to exert or make repeated pleas for normalising health and education sector. One hears of such rhetoric almost on a daily basis but the problem is that Omar Abdullah and his coterie have themselves done precious little to make space for any normalcy, leave alone some development works. The chief minister can perhaps be excused for his selective amnesia when he calls for delinking politics from development, making the dichotomy appear as a jarring note. When people voted enthusiastically in the 2008 elections, after the turmoil of Amarnath land row, for their development needs, Omar Abdullah was among those in the corridors of power from Delhi to Srinagar, making the cacophony of this being a victory of mainstream politics. How conveniently, those who chose to project development issues as a political referendum, want politics and development delinked, interestingly from those who do not even believe in their authority! The government should shed rhetoric and make a fresh attempt in responding to the needs of the people, not by curfews, repression and words but by providing relief and suitable actions.