New Delhi may yet regret the political vacuum left in J & K : Who will sell ‘dreams’?

Detention of 3 chief ministers hasn’t evoked any public sympathy but the PMO, which is directly handling the affair and has left even state BJP leaders in the dark, might regret the political vacuum

New Delhi may yet regret the political vacuum left in J & K : Who will sell ‘dreams’?
New Delhi may yet regret the political vacuum left in J K : Who will sell ‘dreams’?

Aasha Khosa

The Narendra Modi government may well have grandiose plans up its sleeves for the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, but yet it has no credible faces to sell its dreams and promises of a bright future to the people, for all the political and other leaders are either behind the bars or under House arrest since the territorial boundaries of J & K were redrawn on August 5.

The political vacuum in Kashmir is stark and scary and somewhat reminiscent of the decade of the nineties when politicians of all mainstream parties – Congress, National Conference and the Left - had fled Kashmir after locking their offices and police guarding the premises. That six-year spell of leadership vacuum had contributed to the unchecked rise of terrorism and the overground network of secessionists who were helping in carrying out terror attacks.

According to people whom I interacted with over the phone or in person, the political vacuum in both Kashmir and Jammu is leading to frustration and turning the initial euphoria and optimism over the big change in most of the State into despondence and scepticism.

“It’s like one system has been razed and there is no clarity about the shape and colour of the new one,” a political leader from Jammu said while explaining the growing anxiety and impatience of the people in a region where people are normally calm and there is no history of violence and unrest.

It’s because of this that recently a former minister from Congress who also heads the influential Dogra Sabha, Gulchain Singh Charak, was arrested minutes before he was scheduled to address media persons. He was expected to make a demand for a separate Jammu State and speak of the bad deal given to the region in the new package. Such voices are growing in the absence of any explanation or communication from the Modi government.

BJP leaders claim to be clueless

“I know nothing about it,” said a BJP leader from Kashmir, who recently came to Delhi for dropping off his family with relatives. He believed it’s going to take a long time for things to settle down and return of normalcy to Kashmir.

He told National Herald that no clue to the developments before the Parliament passed key amendments on August 5; despite being their man on the ground, he was never contacted either for feedback or directions by the party high command in Delhi.

Even when he was in Delhi and managed to get in touch with some leaders, nobody spoke to him about Kashmir.” He was unable to receive any direction or guidance from party leaders on how I should position myself in public and how people like me should communicate to the common people.

“We know nothing as the PMO is handling Kashmir,” some of the ministers conveyed him, though not exactly in these words.

Business in Jammu

Sources said that business leaders in Jammu are deeply worried about the future. Among those under house arrest in Kashmir are the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with the Bar Council chief.

As state boundaries are redrawn the business leaders of two regions should have been discussing the positive tangibles of the situation. “We have no idea in what state of mind the Kashmiri leaders will be and what will happen to the mutual trade,” a top chamber leader from Jammu said.

Modi government’s surmise that Article 370 was misused by the political elite (Read the National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party leaders) and its demise would turn them into revengeful rebels is understandable. Interestingly, the detention of former Chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omer Abdullah in two comfortable State guest houses in Srinagar is yet to evoke any public sympathy for the two ‘dynasts.’ However, the arrest of second and third rung leaders of the two parties has further crippled the political system, leaving nobody to speak or convey any message to the people.

The case of a group of Kashmiri youth who have joined BJP and even contested the election on party ticket is interesting. They are suddenly people left in no man’s land.

Governor Satya Pal Malik, a BJP veteran, has to play multiple roles of the chief administrator, spokesperson for the common people and also as the representative of the Centre. The other day, he spoke of good days in the offing for people with 50,000 jobs and more schools and colleges in the proposed UTs. Since he is neither from the State nor had had any association with it, his speech is mostly seen as an administrative exercise.

BJP’s allies like Sajjad Lone, an ex-minister in Mehbooba Mufti government and Junaid Mattu, former NC leader who was elected as Mayor of Srinagar with Lone and BJP support, too have been placed under detention. Mattu has however been allowed to visit Delhi for medical treatment.

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Published: 30 Aug 2019, 12:28 PM