They say in a marriage you disagree all the time while in a divorce you genuinely agree to break the relationship to seek independence.
This is quite true of the tumultuous relationship that bound the National Conference (NC) and Congress (Cong) in J&K. The partners tied together by the lure of power have chosen to pursue an independent path on the eve of the state assembly elections later this year.
This is not the time to mourn the break-up but to celebrate the newfound freedom each key party in the state has to chart a new future for themselves as also the people of the state. The split has actually put Kashmir on a new political course. Freed of the legacy issues, key political parties can plunge into the herculean task of redeeming the state of its multitude of problems.
These parties have been presented a historic opportunity to build a people-oriented manifesto as they take a shot at forming the government on their own. The upcoming state assembly poll holds an unprecedented opportunity for voters to vote for a new political alignment. The current ruling alliance partners shared power all this while but were neither joined by ideology nor by commitment to serve the people of the strife-torn state. Anyone in doubt would have witnessed the way the split happened with partners in power fighting over who pulled the rug first.
When earlier this month Omar Abdullah announced the first list of 32 candidates for assembly polls he kept the door ajar, but an announcement by Congress of going it all alone shut the door on hopes of a peaceful end to alliance. The war of words that ensued following the Congress announcement involving the state chief minister and Congress leadership gives an ample insight into the behind-the-scene open slugfest happening all these years the two shared power.
Many view the development as a setback to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but the truth is that there has been growing unease in the state and outside over the way the Omar Abdullah has run the state under his charge. The NC and Congress ruled the state for most of the time post Independence.
Congress has also shared power with PDP. Its track record in the state has been controversial to say the least with its open flirtation with power. Those arguing in favour of Congress being a partner in power perpetually in the state to “protect” interests of the Centre are sadly mistaken. Congress involvement rightly or wrongly with power in the state has done irreparable damage to the identity of home grown political outfits like National Conference and People’s Democratic Front (PDP).
To insulate India’s interests in the state it is imperative that regional political outfits that operate under the overall constitution of the country get full political elbow room to operate when in power.
A strong regional political outfit — be it NC or PDP — would serve well to act as a cushion against anti-India elements rather than be brazenly seen getting into a power sharing agreement with central parties like Congress or BJP. Both NC and PDP eroded their respective regional identities getting into alliances, so did Congress lose local respect in the process.
Coalition politics calls for managing the ugly twists and turns in corridors of power, more so in a state like J&K where alliances have not had a fruitful run. Today it is the turn of NC-Congress to spar over spoils. Not long ago it was Congress and PDP who fought leading to Ghulam Nabi Azad stepping down as state chief minister ahead of state assembly polls in July 2008.
The argument here is not against Congress or BJP staking a claim in the state but against them getting into a partnership (especially pre-poll) with a regional entity like NC or PDP. The tone is set for possibly the fiercest state assembly polls in recent times but one with unprecedented promise to throw up a leadership that is mandated to best serve the interests of the people in the state.