The Mufti of symbolism
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayed sudden death in the morning has left a deep vacuum of political leadership that Kashmir has witnessed since the death of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. But it is also a fact that the Mufti had himself admitted that it is his daughter who is his real strength, who move around and take care of the people. So for all the practical purposes Mehbooba Mufti was looking after the state with her father. So in all likelihood the succession would be smooth and hopefully the central government facilitate the process so that the state does not go to anarchy.
There was a time when none of us ever thought Mufti could ever be the chief minister as he was fighting against the towering personality of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who the Kashmiris still remember for his contribution. Mufti could have gone into hibernation very early but his congress connections and pragmatism of one of the most hated and despised man of Indian politics named as VP Singh who brought Mufti into the mainstream of Indian politics and changed the scenario.
Congress had always ignored its local leadership in its attempt to placate Abdullah family and that gave no hope for any Congress leader to ever think of having its own government in the state. Mufti was also sidelined hence in 1989 he joined Jan Morcha founded by V P Singh who was ready to go to any level to assuage the hurt feelings of Muslims by the continuous betrayal by the Congress party at different level. Under a well planned strategy Janata Dal fielded Mufti Sayed from Mujaffarnagar constituency in 1989 who defeated his nearest Congress rival over more than one lakh fifty thousands vote. Mufti was polled over three lakh thirty thousand votes. Mufti campaigned different parts of state to seek vote for his party and was articulate enough to convince people. Obviously, VP Singh was not just an honest politician but master craftsman too.
Once Janta Dal came to power, VP Singh did which was impossible. One does not know whether it will be possible again or not. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, a Kashmiri Muslim, was given charge of Ministry of Home Affairs. A great act of symbolism and courage to India's second largest population which has been living in suspicion and doubt for its integrity. Immediately after his assuming office, his daughter Rubbaiya Sayed was kidnapped by the Hafiz Sayed's terror group and to save her life a few arrested terrorists were exchanged.
BJP was supporting that government. Many people suggested that time why state acted to save one individual but we need to understand that individual also suffer because of her father's status. So the person needed protection and state did what was possible. If that was wrong, we cant make another wrong giving the same example but things happens like that.
Mufti knew it well once VP Singh government was over, his days would be over too. There are very few people in Indian history who could do so many experiments as VP did. Mufti went back to Congress in later phase but could not adjust. After returning from Delhi as former union Home Minister, his status had grown enormously and hence his following also grew.
He decided his own political party as People's Democratic Party that reflect how he was far away from religious theocratic ideas. Frankly speaking most of the Kashmir leaders never came from that fanatic background which are breeding elsewhere. Kashmir has been an ideal destination for people across the world but unfortunately its others who created troubled in the valley. The governments failed, pumped money without winning heart and that failed. Mufti was trying to do that. It is always important to strengthen the local democratic institutions and leadership so that critical issues are resolved locally. Mufti was a farsighted pragmatic politician who was ready to go any strength if the case was for the benefit of kashmiris. At the end, Kashmiris are needed to solve their own issues as it cant be resolved through political jargons and rhetoric of others elsewhere.