While as in Tamil Nadu, the fallout of Rajiv killer’s hangings would be faced by the state government, the same could be said of J&K government in case Afzal Guru is hanged. This prompted Tamil Nadu Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution asking President Patil to commute the death sentences. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa though in contention with Karunandhi got his cooperation in unanimous passage of the resolution. Even the judiciary remained in tandem with the legislature, as Madras High Court stayed the death penalty of three assassins.While as Tamilian consensus is an example of political maturity, Kashmiri contentiousness on display in J&K State exhibits political immaturity.
Various political formations are gearing up to take varied stand on the clemency appeal tabled by Langate MLA—Engineer Abdul Rashid, wherein the death sentence handed by the court order and confirmed by the Apex Court is sought to be commuted to a lesser sentence, which could be life imprisonment.
The coalition running the state has so far not evolved a joint strategy, which could be based on different perceptions of the bill. It is not known whether there has been even an attempt at all to evolve a consensus by the partners in the coalition. The National Conference would find it difficult to change its stand after Chief Minister tweeted the question, whether an assembly resolution passed by J&K legislative assembly would have remained as un-noticeable as the Tamil Nadu assembly resolution on appeal for clemency for Rajiv Gandhi killers. Omar’s tweet equalising Rajiv killers and Afzal Guru admitted that J&K State is viewed in a different prism in body politic of Indian nation. Constitutional propriety thus has a different ring to it, as far as J&K is concerned. Nationalistic jingoism predominates. There are larger questions involved that may form the part of discourse. Law and order, as per constitutional norms is a state subject, and anything that seeks to disturb it should concern the states more than the federal government.
J&K Pradesh Congress Committee President—Prof Saif-u-din Soz has hinted on the sidelines of a rally at Pahloo in the south Kashmir district of Kulgam that his party may not abstain from voting on the resolution seeking clemency for the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, as reported in the local press. The State Congress President Saif-u-din Soz said that the party’s legislators will not run away on any issue,
“Our legislators will be there attending the full Assembly session and during all resolutions,” Soz told the pressmen. The resolution moved by Independent MLA Er. Rashid is slated to come up for discussion in the state Assembly on September 28.
J&K Pradesh Congress has its own compulsion. Being part of a national party, it has to keep the national perspective in view, as well as the compulsions of state politics. Even within the state, the view may differ from one region to another. Political circles as well as analysts say that like its coalition partner National Conference (NC), Congress is also caught in a catch-22 situation over the resolution. Sources relate that some Congress leaders in the state believe that hanging Guru would adversely impact on Kashmir and term it “supreme interest of the nation to stop his hanging.” However State Congress may have to convince the party high command of the stakes involved. Congress nevertheless would have to look over its shoulder, as to how other political formations on the national scene react, were the congress to get ready for a softer stand. Press sources have quoted a senior Congress leader [without naming him] as saying that “In this context, the resolution is timely and needs our support,” adding however “But the BJP would play it against our party in Jammu which is our base and in other states. It would severely damage the Congress.”
In the meantime, the opposition to the coalition is training its guns. PDP, as per the press reports has decided to vote for the resolution "Our legislature party met and in line with our stand, we have decided to vote for the clemency resolution likely to come up for vote during the forthcoming session of the assembly," party chief Mehbooba Mufti told reporters. "We have always opposed capital punishment. When the death sentence of Nalini convicted in Rajiv Gandhi murder can be commuted, why that of Afzal Guru can’t be commuted?" she asked. "Rajiv Gandhi was a symbol of Indian democracy no less than the country’s parliament," she added. In an attempt to generalise his stand on Guru a la Mehbooba Mufti Omar seemingly did not favour death penalty for any convict, lest the hanging derails the peace in the state. PDP takes the same stand—posing as opponents of capital punishments—peaceniks at work!
PDP and NC are in race for stealing the resistance agenda. They do understand the prevailing overwhelming majority sentiment against the status quo. The status quo they lend a hand to in practicing their brand of politics, which is their deed. In word, however, quite often they spring a surprise by seeming to support the resistance agenda. PDP’s self rule document as well as NC’s autonomy plank should be assessed through the same prism. Omar saw an opening to make a statement seemingly equating Afzal Guru with Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins in his tweet. In the process he did pose a question ‘If J&K assembly had passed a resolution similar to the Tamil Nadu one for Afzal Guru, would the reaction have been as muted? I think not,’ concluded Omar Abdullah. He rued the fact that the sentiments of the people in Kashmir were unfairly treated outside the state. Omar might be loaded with the feeling of the backlash that might come his way, in case the death sentence awarded to Guru for the 2001 Indian parliament attack is carried out. However as the chief political executive in the state, Omar Abdullah’s failure to table a resolution is in striking contrast to Jayalilitha’s endeavour to get the entire house on board in supporting the resolution. It is a poor reflection on the chief minister that contrary to what he said on his tweet, he did not have the wherewithal to table the resolution himself. A lone independent MLA had to do what would have befitted the leader of the house.
The differing stand of various political formations is at variance with the unanimous stand of Tamil Nadu assembly, as it passed the resolution seeking clemency for Rajiv Gandhi killers. Something that political formations in Jammu and Kashmir need to learn from, that is how to evolve a consensus! By lack of consensus, the political formations do not put only the political scenario in poor light, they fail the people too. And failure to emerge out of political contentiousness is a recurring tale. The hapless people of the state remain tuned to it, ever and always!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi
[Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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