JAMMU: More than Article 35A, there is something more and perhaps grave that is bothering National Conference President Farooq Abdullah. After announcing boycott to Municipal, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat polls scheduled to begin next month, he has threatened to boycott Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Is Farooq Abdullah really concerned about Article 35A? Had he been, he would not have expressed his gratitude to the people of Kargil just five days back, precisely on September 2, for “making National Conference the single largest party in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil polls. Farooq said, “I express my gratitude to the people of Kargil for reposing faith in National Conference in spite of the challenges party is facing. The win is a testimony to our commitment of ensuring a society where everyone is equal irrespective of caste, creed, region, religion or colour.”
Interestingly, Farooq Abdullah had told Times Now on 9th February 2018 that the upcoming Local Bodies and Panchayat polls were for the betterment of the people of the State.
“The government has announced Panchayat and town area committee elections. This is not a decision for India or Pakistan. This is a decision for making your own life better – whether you want to make your village better, address people’s problems or not. Many outfits will try to not have these elections because their livelihood comes from our miseries”, this is precisely what Farooq Abdullah had told the national news channel. Remember, he had referred to some ‘outfits’, who, he had said emphatically “will try not to have these elections”. Now, he has converted his National Conference into one of the similar outfits.
Will Farooq let his people know what is provoking him to draw extreme line? What heavens have fallen during the past six days that he is threatening boycott, boycott and boycott? The position on Article 35A has not changed in these five days. In support to his boycott call, Farooq is saying that “the role of the Central Government and the present dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir before the Hon’ble Supreme Court goes clearly against the wishes of the State”. This appears to be a lame excuse in the back drop the Centre continuously taking the same position ever since the Article 35A has been challenged in the Apex Court.
On 17th July 2017, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the Bench headed by Chief Justice J.S Khehar that the NDA government was not keen on filing an affidavit in the case, and wants a “larger debate” on the issue, which it said was a “very sensitive” matter. The Attorney General asked the CJI to refer the matter to a larger Bench as constitutional issues were involved in the case. The inference is crystal clear. The Centre perhaps wants to have the case heard by a competent Bench for deciding the issue. That time Farooq Abdullah did not take any such stance. Had National Conference taken any stand, they would have not contested the LAHDC Kargil polls.
If the outburst on boycott is not yet another gimmick or hollow threat, which leaders like Farooq Abdullah are used to browbeat New Delhi, he must quit his Lok Sabha seat, which he won by bagging 48,555 votes of the just 7 per cent votes polled in by-election to Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency in April 2017. He must also ask all his 15 MLAs to quit their seats in the Legislative Assembly. He must walk the talk, lest it exposes his political hypocrisy.
Leaders like Farooq Abdullah must remember that they cannot have better of both the worlds. They can’t share the loaves of power and also sympathise with those bruising psyche of India in the Valley. The mainstream politicians cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
By the way, hasn’t anybody told that his National Conference is as irrelevant in Kashmir as any other mainstream political party? With their departure from the political landscape of the Valley, no tear is going to roll. The mainstream leaders understand this quite well and so does the Centre.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper