Indianisation of Jammu and Kashmir
After all the hype over free and fair elections and the large turnouts, and then the hoopla over NC's unexpected loss, everyone was expecting swift government formation as the icing over the cake. An ageing Mufti Mohammad Sayeed initially seemed poised to ease himself into the chief minister's chair with Congress's help.india Updated: Oct 23, 2002 22:19 IST
While everyone is annoyed with the political deadlock in Jammu and Kashmir, most have missed a 'positive' interpretation of it. The impasse, the hung assembly, the bickering for power, the reported efforts at horse trading and forming unthinkable alliances - all show that the state is getting genuinely Indian, that it is beginning to match Indian polity in all its true colours, that whatever Pakistan and its own "freedom fighters" might say, it is well and truly an "integral part of our country".
After all the hype over free and fair elections and the large turnouts, and then the hoopla over NC's unexpected loss, everyone was expecting swift government formation as the icing over the cake. An ageing Mufti Mohammad Sayeed initially seemed poised to ease himself into the chief minister's chair with Congress's help. Indeed, the moot point over the first two days after the results was whether the Mufti would be more right in passing over the mantle and letting Mehbooba become the chief minister.
But it all proved premature. The Congress, not content with its unexpected victories, raised its stakes and claimed chief ministership for Ghulam Nabi Azad. PDP could not have been expected to accept this easily, and it hasn't. According to latest reports, it does seem to be relenting, but the bickering has killed the good feel the elections had created.
From the voter who braved bullets to cast his ballot to G C Saxena who was forced to impose Governor's rule, everyone is unhappy. A television report on Tuesday showed voters so disillusioned that they said they will never vote again. People in the rest of country who have been eagerly following the developments are equally dejected.
But the adversity is not without its use. The instability has also pointed out the polls' genuineness, their Indianness. More than the words of the election commissioners, more than the assurances of the Prime Minister, it is the fact that the polls have led to a hung assembly that has made us believe they were actually free and fair.
More than the claims of the returning officers, it is the voters' dejection today that tells us they actually turned up in large numbers to vote. And more than the rhetoric of our collective leadership, it is the political circus being enacted there today that makes people of UP, Bihar and the rest of India relate to the state, that makes them feel it is part of the same country.
It is Azad's offer of deputy chief ministership to Mehbooba Mufti that tells us that a real government, and not one imposed by the centre, is in the throes of formation. For where else but in India is the position used not as an administrative necessity but as a carrot for luring in coalition partners (remember BJP-BSP in UP)?
It is Congress's reported offer of Rs 1 crore to the independents to join the party that tells us that the latter actually won, and weren't selected beforehand in Delhi (remember Vajpayee's own admission that except in 1977, no other election in the state has been genuine). And it is the independents' opportunistic dilly-dallying from the Congress to the PDP and back again that assures us they are of genuine Indian stock.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and the cloud over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir is no different. While we do hope that it will blow over soon, its presence has helped improve the intimacy between the people of the state and the rest of India. We can understand and sympathise with each other better now. And the way things are going, mid-term elections, followed by mud-slinging election campaigns, cannot be discounted as an impossibility. That will make the state Indian beyond every stretch of imagination.
First Published: Oct 23, 2002 22:19 IST