JAMMU: According to Cambridge Dictionary, mainstream denotes an individual or an organisation considered to be normal and having or using ideas etc that are accepted by most people. In political terminology of Kashmir, the term is used for political class, purportedly having pro-India leanings and carrying the support of the people. But do the so-called mainstream political outfits really have pro-India leanings and enjoy support of the people in the Valley? It is a big question, answer to which does not lie with even those who claim to be ‘mainstreamists’. It is an irony that the policy planners, the media and the civil society, which uses ‘mainstream’ term for the pro-India politicians quite frequently, have not been able to define it in right perspective.
Of course, those believing in electoral politics gloat about their mainstream credentials when it comes to enjoying the loaves of power but once out of it, one can find it difficult to differentiate between mainstreamist and separatist, another group of political class which germinates on the oxygen provided by New Delhi and thrive on anti-India bashing.
Both mainstreamists and separatists are most abused terms in Kashmir. Both are running enterprise named ‘Kashmir’ and milking New Delhi with renewed strategies. They have unique convergence despite pretentious divergence when it comes to nailing India. Most of the hearts in both these camps bleed for Pakistan once loyalty remains at stake. The mainstreamists muster public support at the time of stepping the ladder to power, they fail miserably in galvanising the same support once it comes to neutrilising Pakistan and its lackeys.
If separatists could galvanise or coerce the entire population to rally around them to castigate India, Indian system and Indian force, ‘mainstreamists’ never even attempted to motivate their so-called mass base for standing against the cult of violence that has traumatized and brutalized their land of peace for over two and half decades.
If separatists have a motivation to bash India and support Pakistan, the mainstreamists are playing the dual game of musical chairs. When in power, they are seemingly for India and once out of it, anti-India rants become their rock song. The tagline ‘mainstream’ distinguishes it from the politics of separatism, as it, unlike the latter, is prone to scaling the ladder of power with ease. Otherwise, there is no fundamental difference between the two. When out of power, mainstream politicians are no different than separatists. In fact, they become more vocal and vociferous than the secessionists and take even dangerous overtures by jumping all the demarcation lines. Mainstream parties are major beneficiaries of peace in Kashmir. They need no education on how, and in what circumstances, they surfaced or resurfaced on the dingy horizon after six years’ suspended animation of political activities in early nineties. They were supported by New Delhi in turbulent days with larger interest of steering out the people of Kashmir from the morass they were put in by Jihadis in the name of religion. Instead of filling the political vacuum, they became tools of the same regime over a period of time-not out of commitment but by compulsion of remaining glued to power, or may be both.
Unfortunately, Kashmir of today sans leaders; it has enriched itself with India baiters, mostly during the past nearly twenty-seven years. We have ‘mainstreamists’, separatists, miscreants and terrorists but hardly nationalists. In such a grim scenario, will anybody define the term mainstream in Kashmir?