In larger political struggles, it is the belief in great ideal, such as “freedom is indivisible ‘that binds together people from diverse backgrounds and makes them a cohesive force for translating their ideologies and dreams into a reality. That bonds for achieving a cherished political goals are far stronger than cords for sharing comforts of power.
This historical reality however, does not hold true about us. In our case, it is the organizations struggling for bigger political objectives and offering immense sacrifices that after staying for some years on the political scene have suffered divisions after divisions till they withered away and disappeared from the scene. As against this, political parties compromising on the urges and aspirations of the overwhelming majority and subscribing to power politics not only remained on the political scene for longer periods but also have been continuing on the scene to this day in different avatars.
Notwithstanding, people standing behind organizations with bigger cause like a rock, offering huge sacrifices and following their leaders like flocks to the shepherds, have been fragmenting into bits and pieces. Why? This question has been haunting public mind. Are these division caused because of Kashmir leadership, whatever it stature is yet to learn a basic lesson in politics a ‘house divided against itself cannot stand’. Or is it because of inherent contradiction in their political beliefs that have defeated one after another political movement that had shaken citadels of power. The fact remains instead of generation after generation the Kashmir leadership instead of strengthening people’s belief in their cause have driven them from the seas of uncertainties to oceans of despair and despondency.
To illustrate my point of view; how organizations that started with higher political ideals and emerged as force to reckon with but for fragmentation defeated the movements let me start from 1947 instead of 1931.
In this column, I wrote sometime back how the Muslim Conference, with its unambiguous political agenda suffered first breach only one year after in 1932. And how this breach was exploited by a Nehru’s ‘fifth-columnist’ in Kashmir to change the course of the people’s movement and steer it into cesspool of divisive politics. And for which people of not only Jammu and Kashmir but whole of South Asia are suffering to this day.
In 1947, at the most critical juncture when the British Empire was about to sail across Indian Ocean lock, stock and barrel and two new dominions India and Pakistan were about to join the comity of nations, the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference leadership that had key role to play was caught up in internal squabbles. This rift and trust deficit amongst the top Muslim Conference leaders that has been documented in detail by couple of contemporary historians largely created space for the role that National Conference played after the release of Sheikh Abdullah on September 27 1947 by Maharaja Hari Singh at the advice of Indian Home Minister, Sardar Patel. Had not the Muslim Conference leadership got entangled in the intra-specific struggle for supremacy the National Conference would not have become a comfortable launching pad for Nehru to dubious political games in Jammu and Kashmir? True, compared to the Muslim Conference, the National Conference had a well-knit organization but it is equally true that silent majority in Kashmir supported the politics of the Muslim Conference. And in Jammu province, the Muslim Conference compared to the National Conference was most dominant organizations; After Sheikh Abdullah was installed by New Delhi as Chief Administrator and the National Conference cadres were given absolute authority the leftover base of the Muslim Conference on our side of the CFL shrivelled further to wither away for all times to come and the National Conference emerged as dominant organization. True, the leaders and cadres of the National Conference that served as a Playstation for Indian Prime Minister for playing his games in Kashmir suffered their nemesis. That is not subject of this column.
The story of Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front is another glaring example to illustrate how division in the ranks of formidable political parties can defeat even the best organized popular political movements. The Plebiscite Front was born in 1955, and within a short span of time despite its leadership being in jails, it graduated to a mass movement. Notwithstanding, leaders the of the Front being tried for conspiracy and carrot and baton adopted by New Delhi’s new protégé in the state the movement for plebiscite continued to gain ground and Kashmir question once again after 1957 made to the Security Council. ‘Throughout 1960’s Kashmir problem continued to cause concern at the international level.’ In 1964, after the popular uprising in Kashmir in the wake of the Holy Relic movement India in reality gave the Front leadership a third party status in the Kashmir dispute by sending its leaders to Pakistan for working out a solution for the Kashmir Dispute. The process came to abrupt end because of death of Prime Minister. This disappointed a section of the Front leadership and in their desperation they started talking about ‘reconciliation’ with New Delhi that ultimately led to dissidents engineering division in the party. It is true because of strong leadership of Sheikh Abdullah they could not cause a vertical divide in the party but this division did serve as catalyst for death of the plebiscite movement and burial of one of the strongest ‘resistance’ organization with twenty two years history.
After the death of the Front, it almost took fifteen years for the rebirth of a political movement in the state. Now this movement with all its highs and lows is almost twenty five years and in terms of sacrifices people have made highest investment in it. This movement did throw up a multiparty combine to steer it to its ultimate goal but compared to all previous political struggles it suffered the worst ever fragmentation. Ostensibly, there seems no reason for fragmentation of this combine as all the groups continue to subscribe to a common Constitution that delineates their goal. But, the baffling question is why this combine suffered multiple division…Is there something outside media gaze.
The moot point is if this multiparty combine is also on way to go into oblivion. Thus, causing greater space for parties subscribing to the power politics.