Jammu Congress plays second fiddle to Kashmiri masters even on national security
Congress high-command might have distanced itself from Mani Shanker Aiyar’s controversial meetings with Hurriyat separatists in Srinagar last week by describing these as his personal initiatives but what about former union minister and Pradesh Congress chief Saif-ud-Din Soz, who had been a pro-active participant of the peaceniks’ conference. None from even the Pradesh Congress Committee reacted to Aiyar-Soz’s reach out to the ‘Pak funded Hurriyat separatists at a time when the National Investigation Agency was preparing for well-knit raids against the money launderers. The stoic silence of Pradesh Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir may be understandable but what about the ‘once pro-active’ State Vice President, who failed to rise to the occasion. Aiyar and Soz didn’t only gave respectability to anti-national elements but the former even went to the extent of suggesting amendment in the Indian Constitution to ‘accommodate’ Hurriyat secessionists.
Jammu Congress will have to take a stand on Jammu and Kashmir’s accession with the domain of India. It will have either to say that the state is integral part of the country or its status is negotiable, which some in the party believe. For some time now the Kashmir Congress has joined the soft-separatist club of NC and the PDP but what about the Jammu Congress, which is the real base of fast vanishing national party in the State. Intriguing is the role of a senior leader, who hogged national headlines in early 2014 by advocating a Hindu Chief Minister from the Jammu region but his silence over the Kashmir Congress playing separatist flute is in contrast and anti-climax to what he had been pleading.
Irrelevant in Kashmir, like elsewhere in the country after being reduced to invisibility from huge caravan of MPs in Lok Sabha to just two-digit 44, the Congress has become a past tense now. In J&K, however, the party had a scope despite horrible scenario across the country but due to second-fiddle syndrome of its leaders, it is at the verge of extinction in the Duggar land, once a strong-hold. While Kashmir Congressmen are willingly putting their weight behind the separatists, the Jammu counterparts could not even plead for the basics. It failed to agitate cause of the fourth generation of Hindu West Pakistan refugees. On the contrary it kept pampering Mayanmar Muslim Rohingyas in Jammu because that served their vote-bank politics well. The party, being in alliance with National Conference, a few years ago had gone out of way in helping Rohingyas.
By colluding with separatists, the Congress has hurt its stronghold of Jammu the most. The Congress failed in giving Jammu political empowerment by pressing for delimitation. What could be the irony that due to criminal neglect, Jammu is deprived of its due in political spectrum, the example of which is that that one assembly seat of Gandhi Nagar is equivalent to three assembly segments of Srinagar despite being larger in size and population than all the three.
Same is the scenario with other assembly seats and some Lok Sabha segments. Remember the horrible embarrassment to Congress minister from Jammu during NC-Congress rule over Dogra certificates that had to be rescinded despite fire-brand leaders in the ministry. These are tips of the iceberg. The list of discrimination with Jammu is too long, which the Congress could have exploited but for their personal vested interest.
Jammu Congress ‘leadership’ has not traversed beyond the syndrome of being subservient to Kashmir centric politicians. The era of stalwarts like Girdhari Lal Dogra and Pandit Trilochan Dutt is over in Jammu politics. They were the stalwarts dictating terms as also fighting for the cause of Jammu despite the fact that they too did not get their due in the party. Known for their organizational skills, patriotic spirit and managerial capacities, religion played havoc to their careers because the high-command always played placatory politics, not only in this state but elsewhere in the country. They were the leaders who devoted all their energies in nurturing and strengthening the party in Jammu. But present lot of Congressmen from Jammu has terribly let down the people of the region by undermining their self-esteem. They have mortgaged the dignity of Duggarland to their masters for few loaves of power.
Now their patience has waned due to frustration for being out of power to such an extent that the Jammu Congressman feel no remorse or shame in being party to their bosses in Srinagar who want to be seen on the other side of the fence. The Jammu Congressmen will have to take a stand on national interest and decide which side they are. They cannot have better of both the worlds.