JAMMU: It is worth plagiarism if the intent is honest enough to malign one and all in the Jammu and Kashmir politics, which is murkier than the waters of Dal Lake. Salute to the man in bulb Khushwant Singh for his all time relevant column ‘With Malice towards One and All’.
But, what is the need to express courtesy to Khushwant Singh for stealing the title of his weekly column, as hijacking is a fashion these days, especially among politicians. Hasn’t National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party stolen the agenda of Hurriyat Conference and Hafiz Saeed by boycotting civic and Panchayat polls and glamourising radicalised terrorists? After 22 years of the start of political process in 1996, National Conference has finally realised in 2018 the significance of the poll boycott, which was hithertofore an exclusive domain of the Hurriyat. Interestingly it is like Sheikh Abdullah realising the Siyasi Awaragardi (political waywardness) for 22 years from 1953 (when he was dethroned and arrested) till 1975 (when he retrieved back the throne in the wake of Indira-Sheikh Accord).
Is history repeating itself? Is National Conference reverting back to Plebiscite Front era, exactly after 22 years? It is indeed a catch 22 situation for the political outfit which ruled Jammu and Kashmir for better part of the past four and half decades. Now the party is at the crossroads of history. It has to make a choice of either remaining relevant by discarding the Hurriyat and Azadi brigade or sign off from the political scene. In both the cases, the party is going to lose its postal address.
The self-imposed Rajnitik Agyatwas (political hibernation) of the National Conference has rendered its Jammu based leaders jobless these days, when the political activity is at its zenith in the process of elections to civic bodies. They have found a way out to defeat Siyasi Bekari (political unemployment) by doing something productive, not necessarily by engaging themselves in political bouts. There are other bouts too.
Yesterday, former minister and senior National Conference leader Surjeet Singh Slathia graced the concluding function of Annual Baba Peer Shatala Wrestling Competition played at Bari Brahmana. Today, National Conference Provincial President Devender Singh Rana busied himself as Chief Guest of yet another Dangal event in Mathwar block of Nagrota Assembly Constituency. It can be just a coincidence for the two leaders to get drawn towards Kushti (wrestling) but not a bad idea to beat the heat of ‘Bekari’.
This is what happens to political wrestlers after being thrown out of the ring of politics. The mainstream regional leaders are enjoying their parole (a short break) in inaugurating business establishments and watching Dangals. Wrestling is a good pastime for Jammu based National Conference leaders, who otherwise feel bored, unlike their Kashmiri colleagues, who are keeping their date with ‘Hum Kya Chahti repeat Chahti Azadi brigade’. Most of the Kashmiri leaders are these days rubbing shoulders with PDP in competitive soft secession and India bashing. They have the choice but Jammu leaders can’t afford this luxury too.
The problem for the Jammu leaders of Kashmir centric sub-regional parties (sub-regional because Jammu and Ladakh regions have dumped and discarded these in the just concluded civic elections by showing up at the polling booths in large numbers) is that they can’t describe ‘terrorists like Manaan as a ‘scholar’ whose loss pained Mehbooba Mufti or call the stone pelters and India abusers as heroes of Kashmir nation like Farooq Abdullah did. With whatsoever standing the Jammu leaders have in their respective areas, they can’t promote and advocate soft secession to satiate their anti-Delhi sentiments. They can’t demonstrate their solidarity with the ‘Hum Kya Chahti Azadi brigade’ either. Therefore, the new found love for Dangal is a viable and better substitute.
After adopting the new pastime of being around the wrestling rings, NC leaders must be doing lot of homework to justify their ‘chief guest’ stature. It is not necessary to be a Pahalwan himself for the chief guest (which they are in their own right as political Pahalwans) but they have to know something about the sport. Hence to keep themselves abreast with the game of Kushti, the National Conference leaders must be watching the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) shows on the television, as they have all the time available at their disposal, courtesy their Kashmiri bosses, who have preferred hibernation over activism. Enjoy the new avocation!
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