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The BJP and the PDP are reading out from an ancient script

Amit Shah’s desperation to justify his party’s behaviour was obvious; BJP wants to use the Kashmir issue as a weapon in national politics. And Mufti may not be guilty of Shah’s charges but she is of running an inept and unpopular government

columns Updated: Jun 30, 2018 18:39 IST
BJP president Amit Shah and PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti (PTI Photo)

Strange as it may seem, some of the wisest things have been said before. When that is the case they’ve also been best expressed on the earlier occasion. An excellent example is a famous sentence from William Congreve’s play, The Mourning Bride, written in 1697: “Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d”.

Now, doesn’t this aptly describe the way the BJP and PDP are behaving? After their dramatic falling apart, they’ve turned on each other with the viciousness Congreve described in the days when a Dutch King last sat on the throne of England.

Let’s start with Amit Shah. He’s concocted a litany of charges stretching from the foolish and farcical to the exaggerated and incredible.

Thus, Mehbooba Mufti’s government was guilty of “discriminating” against Jammu and Ladakh whilst her family is accused of possessing “personal wealth” equivalent to the “entire state”. Proof of the first charge is failure to complete an AIIMS in Jammu or establish a functioning IIM, delaying Jammu’s smart city status, not giving ST status to Gujjars and Bakarwals, not spending the full amount allocated for refugee relief and failing to rehabilitate Kashmiri pundits. As far as I can tell, he offered no evidence of the second charge but still made it with exaggerated flourish.

Isn’t this a perfect example of “Heav’n has no Rage like Love to Hatred turn’d”? Incidentally, if you’d heard Shah’s speech, his anger was more than just rhetoric. It was pure wrath.

So far Mufti hasn’t retaliated with ‘hellish’ fury. But that could change because she is undoubtedly “a woman scorn’d”. Also, her response was tweeted, not spoken. When she speaks, her rage might be undeniable.

Claiming the charges are “false”, Mufti added, “the Agenda of Alliance (was) co-authored by Ram Madhav & endorsed by senior leaders like Rajnathji.” In other words, the BJP is the author of the policies it’s now abusing. “It is sad to see them disown their own initiative & label it as a ‘soft approach’.”

Despite her subtlety, Mufti dug the knife in when, with reference to the charge of ignoring Jammu, she said: “If anything, they should review the performance of their own ministers, who largely represented the Jammu region”. Then, she twisted the dagger: “If there were any such concerns, none among them, either at state or central level, talked about it during the last three years.”

Now, let’s step back and ask a different question. Do Shah and Mufti reveal more of themselves than of the situations they describe?

Shah’s desperation to justify his party’s behavior was obvious and because that was the case it didn’t achieve its end. Instead, he gave away the BJP’s real reason for divorce. It wants to use the Kashmir issue as a weapon in national politics.

Mufti sounded restrained because she was defensive. She may not be guilty of Shah’s charges but she is of running an inept and unpopular government. She’s lost her constituency and doesn’t know how to speak to the fragments left behind. Her style revealed her lack of confidence.

Finally, if you’ll permit a little showing off, let me switch to the poet Walter Scott. In his poem Marmion, written in 1808, he said: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

I wonder if Shah and Mufti realize their tricks have been written about for at least 210 years? Which proves there’s nothing new under the sun!

The views expressed are personal.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 18:38 IST