Srinagar, 31 July :

Rafqat Sonwaire :

The year 1999 was important for the mainstream politics of the state, in this year the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) was founded under the leadership of Late Mufti Mohammed Syed. This was a milestone in the history of mainstream politics for the reason that a credible opposition was created for the National Conference and the Congress. In particular, National Conference got a constructive opposition in the form of the PDP under the able leadership of Mufti Sahab.

The PDP gained much political mileage in the short time and headed the coalition government with the Congress. Afterwards, the grown trajectory of the PDP moved further up and was became the single largest party in the elections held in the year, 2014. Against expectations, the PDP formed a coalition with the BJP to respect the mandate of the people of all the regions of the state. This was a visionary decision again made possible by the far sight and wisdom of Mufti Sahab.

Mufti Sahab while making this decision had only one concern and it was the interests of the people of the state. The dilapidated and desperate situation in which the people of the state are living, he wanted to change that. He wanted to solve and resolve the Kashmir dispute forever. Slowly and gradually he wanted to improve the status of the people and that of the overall State.

In fact, Mufti Sahab had proved in his first stint as Chief Minister of the state that he means business. He compelled the Congress-led coalition government during that tenure to initiate Confidence Building Measure (CBMs) with Pakistan and separatist and rebel leadership in the state. From the brink of war to initiation of CBMs and ceasefire, he played a role in bringing this change. The relative peace in the state that during the tenure of this visionary leader as Chief Minister, and afterwards, was made possible mainly by his efforts.

The other revolutionary steps he took were equally appreciable. He disbanded the notorious Task Force of Jammu & Kashmir Police, initiated a drive against the encroachment of roads and other government properties in the state, made the different recruitment agencies functional and thereby closed the door for various corrupt practices and formulated many youth-friendly policies and programs to bring them in the mainstream of the modern world. All this was possible only under his leadership.

All the others who had ruled the state before him, and after him, had always toed the line of New Delhi. They were content with occupying the chairs of power in the state. If for that they were effigies of the Centre, they had no issues with that and have no issues with that. Mufti Sahab was different and he proved himself as different. He made the Delhi to follow his policy frameworks not only in respect of the domestic policy in respect of Kashmir but also in shaping her foreign policy.

This is the reason that he was respected and honoured even by his staunch critics and rivals. He was opposed, he was criticized and he was called by different names but he was never neglected for he could not have been neglected. He was not only a local and national leader but rather he was a statesman of global standing. Had he retained the Chief Ministership of the state for the full term during his first tenure, a great headway would surely have been achieved in respect of Kashmir dispute. Kashmir would have achieved higher standards of development and advancement in respect of all human development indices.

The premature demise of the Congress PDP coalition and the gain of power by the National Conference and the Congress coalition prevented Mufti Sahab from doing his good work. Nonetheless, he made his party a credible opposition. The party as a constructive opposition became the real voice of the people. Wherever there was a misuse of power the party opposite it. Wherever atrocities were committed against poor people of the state, this party stood with the people and worked hard in the delivery of justice. Wherever a government policy and legislation lacked anything the party came forward with the suggestion. And whenever the state faced any challenge the PDP under the leadership of Mufti Sahab became the vanguard of the people to face the challenge.

In nutshell, Mufti Sahab was a completed politician, statesman, leader and administrator. He sacrificed dearly to serve and keep serving the people of the state. To that end, he involved his daughter and other people from his dynasty to aid him in serving the people. With them, he worked tirelessly day and night to provide some relief to the people of the state, in whatever way it was possible.

It with the intention to keep his good work going he took the above mentioned unexpected decision to form a coalition with the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). But, he was enough of cautious and ensured that the real interests of the people are not compromised by the formation of the coalition. Before entering the coalition he reached to a consensus and framed and agreed upon of Agenda of Alliance (AoA).

According to this agenda, many assurance and guarantees were got from the BJP leadership. It was ensured that the special status of the state is not diluted and Article 370 and 35A are not touched. Instead, the party tried to get more of autonomy for the state. This again reiterates the visionary character of Mufti Sahab.

However, once the coalition was formed the BJP started fulfilling its own agenda instead of the AoA. This behaviour of the BJP dismayed Mufti Sahab to the core and he would have surely acted against that had his health status not deteriorated. Before he could do anything about it he died an unexpected and untimely death. His death was a shock from which the party has not recovered even now and there is no chance that the party may recover.

After his death, the party decided to continue the coalition with BJP. But this time the story was different. It was the same PDP which it was under Mufti Sahab. This time the party played second fiddle in the coalition and a recessive partner unlike in Mufti Sahab’s time when the party was always in command. The party literally became an adjunct of the BJP and move in the direction in which the BJP wanted it to go. There was no resistance that was offered by the leadership of the party.

The Ex-chief Minister and other leaders of the party kept mum each time explosive and invective speeches were delivered by the people from the BJP against the people of Kashmir and even the PDP. The PDP became a party in the designs and plots of the BJP against the people of Kashmir and acted as more loyal than the BJP.

The Ministers and other people of the party who occupied different posts in the government were content with holding of their chairs and nothing else interested them. The death of the people of their constituencies was no issue for them. They remained glued with their chairs when the agreed upon of AoA was openly violated by the BJP. The party leadership as if were switched to a silent mode from which they never came back as long as they were in the coalition. At the time the BJP pulled back all the Ministers and party leaders were in their offices unaware of the emerging political moves of the other political parties and even their own coalition partner.

The acting of the party in this disgraceful way is a clear indication of the fact that the current party is not the PDP which it was under Mufti Sahab. We can go to the extent of saying that the PDP died they same day when Mufti Sahab died. Without him the party has lost all the plot and direction, without him it is a rudderless boat in the middle of a sea battling the worse of the cyclones and without him, it seems that the boat of the party has already capsized.

My association with the party is from Mufti Syed’s times. He was an inspiration to attract me towards the party. I joined the party in the hope that Mufti Sahab and after that his daughter would lead the state towards prosperity. Though Mufti Sahab always acted towards that direction with dedication and sincerity his daughter and other leaders of the party disappointed me and all the loyal workers of the party. The party leaders even forgot the constitution of the party its constituencies.

Now the new political formulation, it seems, is developing in the state. This is an encouraging effort to present a credible opposition of the parties that have always exploited the state and her people. These new political formulations are expected to tread a path of their own and not to travel the defeated path of the PDP that the party treaded in the last two years after the death of Mufti Syed. In the meanwhile, the namesake PDP is in disarray now and perhaps counting the last days of its existence. While as one is hopeful with the new political formulations but at the same time one cannot afford to feel any pain at seeing the current state of the PDP and the crushing of Mufti Sahab’s dreams by the same people who he nurtured. Painful!

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