The myth of ‘people’s empowerment’

Politicians are a rare breed who love to project themselves as messiahs of people who have always redemption prescription with them. To pull beleaguered people out of morass of impoverishment, corruption, inflation, and non-employment. The only ones who will provide you all basic amenities of life and dump your lawns and backyards with all sorts of essential commodities.

            They are the species who nurse the phantom belief that people are short of memory and suffer from collective amnesia. Thus their naivety they read from the faces of the people and think can be fed on fantasies. Thus the atrocities they inflicted on people in their tenure and left them sew in their juice never make them ashamed of. Reign of terror they unleashed, prisons they packed with people, draconian laws like PSA they imposed on school going children, students they lifted from examination centres in handcuffs and other humiliation they heaped on people, they believe none will hold them account for.

                        Theirs is a rosy picture to show and expect applause for. No scams, no Yosoufs, no bloods, no draconian injustices and no black spots on their sleeves. It is all white. Lilly white. Believing people, nay their subjects will believe them. Below is a sample. Just go through it.

            Omar Abdullah has just completed his three years in government. He has, through a full-page colored advertisement in leading Indian English dailies and in vernacular press, hailed his tenure as ‘3 years of people’s empowerment paving the way for peace, progress and prosperity’. The advertisement projects Omar as the leader of ‘courage, vision and dynamism’ and Kashmir ‘a growth story being written under Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister, J&K’. Showing an elderly Kashmiri patting Omar at face the description pasted claims, in words of Chief Minister: ‘The story of our performance is positive. Such a developmental process wouldn’t have been possible without the people’s participation and their desire to return to life of peace and prosperity’. In company of Madam Sonia and PM Manmohan Singh (all three in standing posture waving their hands) Omar shows himself ‘working in tandem with National Leadership’ and enjoying ‘the holistic support and patronage of Hon’ble PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi…’

Then there is slew of “grand achievements” Omar-led coalition government takes the credit of. Omar puffs up with pride of ‘92% success rate in grievance redressals’. From Health and medical education to ‘shining in sports’, to industries, agriculture, forest conservation and eco-sustainability, social welfare, tourism, power, and employment, it is “success story” Omar has scripted, to be envied by others. That should make J&K virtually a ‘paradise’ on earth. But alas! Behind the tall claims and trumpet blowing there is a different world that profiles Omar in a rating not different from his predecessors. Everything he boasts of was the swine-song of Azad, Mufti and his father Dr. Farooq Abdullah. Wording may be different, phraseology might vary, but the symphony in self-applause and praises on Indian leadership was not different. Omar regime, yes, can boast of ‘80% polling in Panchayat elections – Ist time in 28 years’, ‘the right to information Act, 2009 enforced’, and ‘Right to Public Service Guarantee Act, 2011’; and these are the flag-ship “products” of his three year rule.

            Omar is aware of the fact that mass participation of people was not a vote for accession as Indian leadership seems addicted to make a case of. Not even for a slip-word pro-Indian groups ever mention, to let alone demand, finality of accession in any format of election’ be it assembly election or parliamentary. They demand vote for local issues like employment, bijli, sarak, pani. While RTI Act has enabled people to elicit information on number of issues, the issues that matter them most, in present circumstances are denied the information of on ‘security reasons’.

Thus for example, information sought regarding the strength of Indian army, CRPF, BSF, CISF, Navy and other formations, the land occupied, leased legally acquised by Indian forces, power tariff they owe to PDD, fake-encounters, fate of enquiry commissions detailed account of mass graves, the punishment (if and when given) to guilty cops, is not given. Against the much touted Public Service Guarantee Act, the new job policy under which a non-gazzetted employer has to get a stipend for first five years is as humiliating as to make him/her commit a suicide. Omar has promised one government job for each family and round-the-clock regular supply of power. 16-year Altaf Sood’s killing near power projects at Baniyat Uri by CISF reflects how these promises he fulfilled.