Prof Hari Om
Farooq Abdullah-led out-on-the-limb and deflated Gupkaris consisting of seven Kashmir-based essentially separatist outfits, including PDP, didn’t release even one list of candidates from Jammu province for the first-ever District Development Council (DDC) polls in UT of J&K. It’s too well-known that by not releasing any list of candidates from Jammu province, the Gupkar gang virtually acknowledged that it had little or no say in Jammu province, the UTs biggest region housing population equal to Kashmir, if not more. It was a victory of the nationalist people of Jammu province.
More importantly, chairman of Gupkaris, Farooq Abdullah, failed even to announce all the 140 names of Gupkari candidates from Kashmir. It could release only 6 lists containing names of 117 candidates for the first six phases of polls in the Valley. Clearly, the warring PAGD constituents failed to work-out an acceptable seat-sharing formula for the last two phases of polls.
Anyway, Farooq Abdullah could manage mandate only for 55 candidates — belonging to his National Conference (NC) — from 55 territorial constituencies in Kashmir out of 117, less than 50 per cent. Out of the remaining 62 territorial constituencies in Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP got mandate for 35 territorial constituencies, People’s Conference (PC) of Sajad Lone for 12, Sonia Congress for three, JK People’s Movement (JKPM) of Javed Mustafa Mir for four, Awami National Conference (ANC) of Muzaffar Shah for four and CPIM of Sitaram Yechury for two territorial constituencies.
Indeed, the distribution of territorial constituencies in Kashmir constituted a great or splendid fall of the NC and Abdullahs.
It needs to be underlined that Sheikh Abdullah’s Muslim Conference (MC)/NC had dominated Kashmir’s religio-political scene between 1932 and 1947. In fact, it muddied Jammu’s waters in Kashmir. To be more precise, it promoted anti-Dogra politics in Kashmir during these 15 long years with a view to ensure separation of Kashmir from Jammu.
The NC dominated Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh between 1948 and 1965, 1975 and 1984, 1987 and January 1990, 1996 and 2002 and between 2009 and 2014. Abdullahs also held important ministerial positions at the centre, both under the Congress and BJP for a few years. During this period, it muddied Indian waters in Kashmir and created a high wall of hatred between Kashmiri Muslims and all other Indians, including people of Jammu. That the Abdullahs also served under the Congress and the BJP speak for itself.
The NC’s only contributions during all these years were promotion of separatism in Kashmir and the selfish interests of Abdullah dynasty at the cost of people and the nation, de-Indianisation of civil secretariat, partition of Jammu province and Ladakh on communal basis, demographic invasion on Jammu city and around it, institutionalisation of corruption, subversion of democratic processes, destruction of Jammu province and Ladakh, loot & plunder of Indian tax-payers’ money.
The NC’s decline started in 2002, when Farooq Abdullah abdicated in favour of his green-horn-in-politics-son Omar Abdullah, and made him the NC president. Farooq did it when the 2002 Assembly elections were round the corner. That the people of the state, including Kashmir, their core constituency, didn’t accept Omar Abdullah as their leader could be seen from the fact that he brought down the NC’s tally from 57 in 1996 to 28 in 2002. His leadership didn’t click even in 2008, despite the fact that the NC remained in Opposition for six long years. The NC again won 28 seats that year. It’s a different story that Sonia Gandhi and Abdullahs hobnobbed with each other for the sake of power. Sonia conferred the office of CM on Omar Abdullah for full six years. This was the period when the NC and Congress Government settled thousands of Rohingyas in Jammu city and Samba at strategic locations.
Omar Abdullah further brought down the NC’s tally from 28 in 2008 to just 15 in 2014. He himself lost in one of the two constituencies from where he tested turbid political waters. He did win from the other constituency but with a margin of paltry 100-odd votes. It was a humiliating defeat, and not a victory, by any yardstick. His uncle Mustafa Kamal was decimated in Tangmarg constituency. He came fifth and even lost security deposit. Mustafa Kamal had repeatedly said, “J&K is a Muslim-majority state and its CM has to be a Muslim”.
Earlier in May 2014, Farooq Abdullah himself suffered a humiliating defeat in the Srinagar Lok Sabha Constituency. His victory from the same constituency in 2019 was also not a victory. Only a few thousand voters voted for him.
Abdullahs had lost their sheen and appeal and became irrelevant even in the Kashmir’s political arena became clear on August 22, 2020, when both the Abdullahs went to their arch-political rival Mehbooba Mufti’s official residence at Gupkar Road. That day, seven Kashmiri separatist outfits – the NC, the PDP, the PC, the CPI-M, the CPI, the ANC and JKPM – formed what they called People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). The alliance of Kashmiri Sunni leadership elected Farooq Abdullah as chairman of PAGD, Mehbooba Mufti as its vice-chairperson, Sajad Lone as spokesperson, Hasnain Masoodi as coordinator and MY Tarigami as convenor. The Sonia Congress is also part of Gupkar Declaration, notwithstanding its denial. It’s a signatory to the August 4, 2019 atrocious Gupkar Declaration 1.0. In other words, the PAGD, which is both pro-China and pro-Pakistan, consisting of eight Kashmiri parties.
The agenda of the PAGD, everyone knows, is to segregate J&K from Indian political and constitutional organisation, colonise Jammu province and establish Nizam-e-Mustafa.
What the Abdullahs did on August 22 was an open admission that they had failed, that they couldn’t lead and represent even Kashmir and that their own very survival depended upon support of other Kashmiri outfits.
However, it was on November 7, 2020 at Jammu’s Bathindi that the Abdullahs took what could be politically termed as the last step to render the NC unreal for all practical purposes. That day, the Farooq Abdullah-led PAGD declared that the newly-founded outfit will contest the scheduled DDC elections ‘unitedly’. And on November 9, Farooq Abdullah and JKPCC chief G A Mir cleared all the cobwebs of confusion by stating that all the eight Kashmiri outfits, including Congress, will contest the aforesaid elections unitedly and distribute the 280 DDC seats across J&K among the eight Kashmir-led and controlled outfits.
That Farooq Abdullah was even prepared to abandon its age-old party symbol became clear the same day, when he said that the PAGD ‘didn’t get enough time for registration before Election Commission for one symbol’.
Clearly, the Abdullahs have lost their way and are in a self-destruct mode. What does it mean? It means the NC is out and over. It’s out and over because it is now one among the eight. It is hardly necessary to reflect more on this development. It’s for the Jammu-based supporters of Abdullahs to sit up, discuss and decide if it’s politically prudent for them to continue to throw in their lot with a party which is out and over.