Renegade Politics

Why the Kashmir issue is like a Saas-Bahu Serial

Kashmir situation is becoming worse every day, and it’s quite difficult to balance the loyalty one feels for his nation, and the illogical state of affairs we have landed into.jkroad

Let’s forget for the moment, Maharaja Hari Singh, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, India Gandhi, Narendra Modi etc various agreements we had with different leaders from Sheikh Abdullah to Bhutto.  All these are important from legal and political perspective, but not part of this discussion.

But in 2016, what’s important is the human beings out in Kashmir. Both the army men and the inhabitants of the valley.

Let’s accept certain facts. The percentages quoted may not be accurate to the last digit.

  1. About 97 percent of the valley, and about 70 percent of Kashmiris are  Muslims.
  2. At least 90 percent of them don’t identify as Indians. They are not willing to accept the merger with India.  That’s at least 8 million of them there.
  3. Rest of us, including some extreme left heart bleeding liberals are not able to understand their logic for the following reasons. This includes me too. I have been speaking with Kashmiris I know, and I certainly don’t get it. Some of my reasons are why they should stay with India, and I really want someone to tell me what would be counter arguments.
    a) Kashmir cannot remain independent between India and Pakistan
    b) Azaad Kashmir is a misnomer. There’s no Azaadi in POK.
    c) The soft sufism Islam practiced by majority of Kashmiris will invite attacks from Sunni radicals once merged.
    d) Pakistan is a failed state, and you will be driven to penury. India is a richer country, and opportunities are better for everyone.

We as a nation has an express interest in Kashmir. And I absolutely share it. I simply don’t want us to give up on Kashmir.

If you can suppress your jingoistic feelings inside for some time and think logically, you will see that our interest in Kashmir is limited to the real estate piece called Kashmir. Our interest is really not in the people residing in that real estate, what they think, what they want, what they say or where do they want to go.

To understand and illustrate this better, we need to understand Kashmir problem and compare it to a typical Indian marriage. The Kind of marriages seen in Indian TV serials.

So we have 9 constituents to this anology, and I am borrowing them from the Saas Bahu Serials.

  1. The Righteous husband –India represented by Indians living outside Kashmir (and not India the country)
  2. The Unhappy Wife — Kashmiris(Muslim Kashmiris) who want Azaadi.
  3.  The Dowry — Kashmir, the real estate awarded to India by wife’s father Raja Hari Singh.
  4.  The Wedding — That took place in October 1947. It so happened that the wife was probably more acceptable to the marriage then.
  5. The Jealous Suitor who is still eyeing the wife and the dowry a.k.a The Villain — Pakistan
  6.  Relatives of Husband and Wife — Indian Media, the so-called Nationalists, the Sanghis, the Bhakts, AAPtards, seculars and pseudo-seculars etc.
  7. Members of Society — NGOs, International Media, UN representatives and other countries.
  8.  The Vamp — Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and the bleeding seculars ( Hey that includes me too)
  9. The Inter Religion Marriage — Initially both husband and wife were secular, suddenly husband is a Hindu and wife is Muslim.

 

The Plot of the Serial, Misogynist like all Indian serials.

  1. Well, the wife unfortunately is not willing to listen to any reason, like many wives we have heard of. The husband is doling out many presents, is desperately wooing her. India is spending more on Kashmir than on a populous state like Bihar which has nearly 10 times the population.
  2. Yet wife is not ready to fall back in line, accept the husband and get along with the marriage. In fact wife says she hates the husband.
  3. Relatives who are sensible keep telling the wife. Look how nice the husband is. He is taking care of you very well, he is a such a nice guy. He is so handsome compared to the wily suitor, Pakistan. Some of the neighbors are not willing to get involved because they think wife seperated is not a great idea.
  4. They also tell the wife to adjust and continue with the relationship, we cannot afford the breakup.
  5. Since wife is not listening and is actually resorting to violence with the support of the Villain, husband is using force. Yes, we have 700,000 security men to control a population of about 8.8 million Kashmiris who are seeking independence.
  6. Now the wife is insisting on Talaq even more, she is complaining that the husband is beating her up, and is claiming domestic abuse.
  7. Many members of the society agrees with her, they are whispering. Worse, some relatives are siding with her and a few of them are making fun of the husband. Husband is hoping mad.
  8. Some relatives are telling the husband f*&^ with the wife, let’s ship her to her suitor, but let’s keep the dowry. Whatever happens we cannot  give up the dowry.
  9. Wife is caught in two minds, if a Talaq takes place. One half of her mind she wants to remain independent, and another half of her mind wants to marry the old suitor.
  10. But India  like any possessive husband will not let off this 69 year old bride away. And there are several reasons, both legal and political. India does have rights over Kashmir, but then that should not be the only reason, when there’s no love between the husband and wife.
  11. Fact remains husband’s real interest is dowry, he does not care about the wife, and we will always use the tragic story of Kashmiri Pundits, and the attacks on Indian army to justify the marriage.
  12. Husband unfortunately cannot go to court. Unlike marriages where you can have courts to decide on issues, we cannot even have any third party  intervention. UN, USA, and China which could be potential mediators which Pakistan might insist on and they will ask for a plebiscite or a referendum, and we cannot afford a plebiscite. That’s just the first step to a real divorce, and we will need to return the dowry.

Moral of the story: If husband need to keep the dowry, then start loving the wife, and not the dowry. Stop beating the wife, and give her a lot more independence. Start trusting her. She may still demand a divorce. But we need to try keeping her with us, and the dowry too.

Well, it’s all easy to say, right! That’s the exact problem we have with Kashmir.

Now watch this video and song….

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8 steps which AAP needs to take immediately

After all it has not been such a bad result. 4 MPs in your début at national level and 1 crore plus votes polled for your candidates are not bad at all. But can we improve.  We are perhaps better off than BSP. Despite polling 4.2 percent votes, BSP has zero MPs in the Lok Sabha.

1) Be gracious in defeat.

Let’s not react like Mayawati, we are lucky that we won four seats against all odds. BSP scored a null. Let’s accept that the common man did not find any appeal in us across 95 percent of the seats we contested. Let’s give all credit to Modi and BJP. They fought hard, fought well. They had money and muscle power, and we never had that. We made mistakes,several. Accept that our leaders are also gullible common men, and they can make mistakes. Question them, so that they are not complacent anymore.

When we set out to fight this battle, we knew the odds were heavily loaded against us. So why worry? But it’s important to do a post-mortem, and probe the reasons for defeat.

2) Accounting and Accountability

We have collected Rs 37 crore or so through donations to fund the Lok Sabha elections. We need to publish to the last detail where the money was spent, and what was the outcome. We need a provisional balance sheet of election spending immediately. Transparency is what AAP lacked in the run up to the elections, but transparency is what we need to have if we need to have a future. Remember this is public money, and need to be accountable down to the last Rupee. And that too on a war footing level without wasting any time.

The day we do that, we can hold our heads high and demand every other party to come clean on how they spent the money and how they raised it in first place.

3) Ownership of this defeat

The party leadership should take ownership of the election debacle. We need to first humbly accept that it is a debacle, since in January 2014 opinion polls gave us up to 40 percent support from urban areas outside Delhi, and that reduced to just 3 percent in the real elections.Precedence in the corporate world when an enterprise has a bad year, the CEO and key people in management step  down.

When Nitish Kumar of JD(U) and Tarun Gogoi of Congress can offer to resign from the CM post of Bihar and Assam, it’s time Arvind Kejriwal stepped down as the convenor, and accepted the blame on himself, and tender a resignation and called for internal elections to gain back respect.

4) Have Internal Elections

In independent India’s history there have been three political streams which has succeeded beyond 2 states. The Congress, Janata Parties(including BJP) and it’s predecessors and the Left. Why?

That is because they have built collective leadership, and had leaders beyond a family or a core group. Even for Congress, till Sonia and her son took over helms of the party, it had a national leaders who could win from anywhere. Now it’s a one way ticket to further destruction for the Congress, if they continue on their reliance on the Gandhi-Nehru parivar.

AAP cannot be caught in the same trap, and become a Arvind Kejriwal party. You cannot have your party’s fortunes(and the country’s) tied up with that of an individual. This is dangerous.

Let’s admit it. Outside core AAP supporters, Kejriwal has lost respect, and he needs to change his politics to regain his image. And it will not be easy in the run-up to the Delhi polls. But AAP having an internal election and the leadership reaffirming the faith back on AK may be even seen symbolic. But it’s important that such a step is taken by AK and team, and confidence need to be restored.

I believe every key office bearer should step down, and through some form a democratic process we need a new team  elected. I would like to see AK back as the national convener, but not nominated, but elected.

 

5) Drop the NGO obsession

We simply cannot have a leadership of activists with no proven record of governance, beyond leading dharnas or running NGOs. We need  entrepreneurs, professionals, businessmen, media men and senior bureaucrats to take up politics full time and led the party.While a number of activists who were not aligned to a political identity joined AAP,  AAP also scouted for activists across the country.  In fact getting activists and NGO crowd to join became an obsession for AAP.

99 percent of NGOs depend on three kind of funding. 1) Government 2) Corporate 3) Foreign.

Any serious Government funding to NGOs have always been associated with corruption or nepotism and funding from corporates with vested interests only beneficial to a few parties.

In the past few years, foreign funding to NGOs have been under scanner. There have been several stories spread about the origins of the funds, and about roles of CIA and other international agencies in these funding. There are some half-truths there and some blatant lies. We will never know the real truths behind some bizarre decisions, till the leadership comes clean.

Look at the results, none of these leaders managed to win anything. Some polled less than 1000 votes, almost in 40 percent of seats you had independents polling votes than an AAP candidate. Activism and governance are two poles apart.

6) Usher in new leadership 

I know it would hurt a lot of AAP supporters if I say that the leadership needs a complete overhaul if we need to be relevant for tomorrow. The core AAP leadership are a bunch of activists who stood with Arvind Kejriwal from the India Against Corruption days. They have done their job, and some of them need to go in the interests of the nation and the party.

Do we have the leaders to lead and win elections? We need leaders who will appeal beyond the current AAP support, which is anyway very small outside Delhi and Punjab.

The current national executive need to resign, and a new executive need to be entrusted in leading the party forward.  And  the representation should give equal coverage to include people from all walks of society, state, gender, profession and ideologies.

In the next few days and months there would be deserters across every party including AAP. If someone is quitting AAP for another party, we must not stop them. But if someone is quitting AAP to leave politics, we need them badly. Because the former is an opportunist, and the latter is just a quitter.

I expect several good leaders to leave Congress, BJP, BSP and other parties. We must invite them, if they are good and have good intentions. Experience is what AAP lacked the most in these elections, and there is no substitute for experience. For example invite Jaswant Singh. He may be far from perfect, but so are we.  Singh may say no, but he may still be gracious at least. We would want people from all ideologies to join us, as AAP does not have any specific ideology, and we will need to evolve one based on what is best for the country.

7) Build organization

The biggest positive we have is we have some presence everywhere. We even have party offices in many states even at district and taluk levels.Once the new national executive in place, you need to build organizational structure in every state. By now we know where we stand, and the current state leadership should  plan a road-map, with clear goals, and targets need to be set to grow absolute paid membership numbers.

Develop local leaders who can connect with the local  masses and the local media, who can take up local issues and fight for it.There are local body elections across many states. AAP’s chances are the best in local bodies elections, and new leaders and volunteers will emerge. It’s the in-the-face corruption that troubles the citizens most.

Every new political party have succeeded that way. Remember Shiv Sena did not win many assembly seats, but kept winning local body elections for more than a decade. A neutral voter would not trust a new party in a national election, but may take a chance in a local body election. But to win local body elections, we need to have local leaders who are willing to fight for local issues.

8) Woo back Middle Class

We need to accept that we have lost temporarily a large cross-section of middle class to Modi. And a few permanently.  The middle class is the most finicky of all voting classes. They are growing in large numbers. Across the country the poor which formed Congress and the Left parties’ core vote bank has middle-class aspirations. So the middle class will emerge as the largest vote bank in the country.

And AAP just needs to stick to the original plans to woo back this vote bank. I believe our fundamentals are still intact. It’s the implementation and focus what is missing. You cannot appeal to them taking up extreme left of the centre stance. An ordinary housewife in Delhi cannot be bothered with the issues which tribal group in Chhattisgarh face. There is absolutely no reason, the middle classes will not return to AAP and return even more strongly in Delhi. Their issues are simple, and their needs even simpler. We just have to stick to the original goals with no U-turns.

Endnote

The biggest appeal of AAP is that it was sans any specific ideology. Yogendra Yadav described it as a solutions oriented party and an ideology driven.Let that be our strength. No specific ideology, only a few principles. We want people from every stream to join us–  left, center and right. There is nothing wrong with either left or right thinking as long as they are not extreme.

And remember India’s problems are like a machine room with a large numbers of nails, screws, and bolts. Every political party have used a single tool depending on their locus standi. NJP with right wing agenda is trying to fix everything with a large hammer, andCongress is screwing around with a screw driver.

AAP need to evolve like a veritable tool box, using multiple tools depending on the job.

 

 

Categories: Random Thoughts, Renegade Politics | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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