PDP—a year after Mufti


Not long ago, National Conference (NC) was an overwhelming voice of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. For about seven decades, the NC dominated the political landscape of all the three regions of the state. Today, we see it as just one among various political groups—virtually battling for survival. The NC’s fall from grace is not abrupt. It is due to its long history of compromising its position on principles for power. Joining hands with BJP in 1999, which brought Omar Abdullah to political limelight for having been inducted in BJP-led government in Delhi, was the actual culmination. Majority of the people here came to view it as ‘character issue’ rather than some honest mistake or miscalculation by NC leadership. The venom people poured out in 2002 Assembly elections against the nonchalant rather casual leadership of National Conference could be understood from their preference of choosing (then) not-so-popular—Mufti Mohammad Saeed. If there is a lesson in NC’s downfall it is that people have scant respect for the parties and leaders who fail to set the example they are expected to. It goes without saying that Mufti Mohammad Saeed set a new standard in governance that made people think that their choice was not bad. It was for the first time that New Delhi, instead of issuing diktats, likened to hear from a chief minister from Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being in minority in government with the Congress in the state, Mufti Mohammad Saeed always looked in control of things—making Congress play only second fiddle. It was for this fact that in 2008 assembly elections Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) increased its member-count in the assembly (from 16 in 2002) to 22. In last year’s elections the PDP’s score went up to 28—the highest of all parties in the House. This time PDP chose to go with BJP (second largest party in the House) to form the government; perhaps to make Congress pay for having chosen to go with the National Conference in 2008. But for PDP things did not go the 2002-way. The BJP’s aggressive posturing on key issues directly related with the sentiments of the state’s majority community took the toll on Mufti and his party. But the master planner, Mufti was known as, still managed to keep on his grip on the government giving PDP some benefit of doubt. However, his death on January 7, last year, virtually dealt a severe blow to whatever the remains of the PDP. Nothing worse could have happened to the PDP than the coronation of his daughter as the chief minister of the state.It goes without saying that PDP, in real, owes its popularity and rise mostly to Mahbooba Mufti. But this too is an undisputable fact that the fall of PDP has also begun with her. One had expected that Mahbooba Mufti could take advantage of the chief minister’s office and strengthen her position as a credible and dependable voice of Kashmir. But she, for all probabilities, proved a disaster. Today she is not even a pale shadow of her yester-year’s self. She rather acted as rubber stamp of New Delhi, more particularly BJP she is running the government in alliance with. Hundred days of stringent curfew, 102 gruesome killings, more than 15000 injuries coupled with humiliation and harassment, jail and torture is all she had to offer at the end of the day. Her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would never have liked this. He would have rather walked out of the government than going against his own people. One year after his death, PDP’s death becomes more imminent with no hope of survival. With Mufti’s death PDP too died its own death falsifying the myth that PDP owed its rise to Mahbooba. Mufti Sayeed was a man of his own class and meaning not dependent on others.