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AAP in Delhi and MUF in Srinagar

AAP in Delhi and MUF in Srinagar
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AAP in Delhi and MUF In Srinagar, Aam Aadmi Party In Delhi And Muslim United Front In Srinagar. Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning victory in Delhi is...

Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning victory in Delhi is something, which has surprised both the political pundits as well as the traditional political parties who have taken people for granted for their support. Pre-poll assessments had certainly given a space to AAP but not to the extent they finally carved out in the end. Dismissed earlier as “chillers” and a bunch of “novice” activists, they really dismantled the Congress fort, that too in the capital of world’s largest democracy. AAP’s victory is significant on many counts.
It not only is just a year-old party but it also kept both large national parties of India away from power and opened up a new chapter of politics which they believe has honest foundation. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s interviews were superb, the way he conducted himself and responded to the questions. He termed both Congress and BJP as corrupt and communal and saw no difference in their dealings. His determination to not fall prey to power has also brought a shift in the politics which has been laden with corrupt practices, horse-trading and other illegal means.
AAP’s win surely is a tribute to Indian democracy and refreshes the memory of those who have seen Indira Gandhi, the most powerful scion of Nehru-Gandhi family having been defeated by Raj Narain. Arvind defeating three-time Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit not only speaks about the urge, the people have a change but it also brings to the fore the strong roots democracy has taken in the Indian political fabric.
Unknown but apparently sincere people winning and defeating even the stalwarts of BJP and Congress who had been representing the people for many decades is the hallmark of the system the people themselves have nurtured for long time now. In a strong anti-Congress wave which emanated from unprecedented inflation, a string of scams and other consequences of bad policies of two United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments, Sheikh Dikshit could not save herself under some good and positive things she had done to change the face of Indian capital in the last 15 years. She might have been treading on an anti-incumbency path too but she also bore the brunt of the mis-governance at the Central level.
While AAP’s victory is seen as a positive change in the Indian democratic set up, it reminds me of a similar experiment in Jammu and Kashmir way back in 1987. In the event of continued mis-governance, corruption and showing contempt for merit, an alliance of few parties came into existence under the banner of Muslim United Front (MUF).
The MUF was not the copy of AAP but it was somehow akin to circumstances in which the latter was born. Suffocation and frustration at the hands of the rulers became the immediate cause for Kejriwal and comrades to take the democratic route to counter them. Same was the case in 1987, when the successive regimes had taken a heavy toll on people’s patience as far as governance and the question of people’s rights is concerned.
They had been deprived of these rights and deceit was the only course the rulers took to deal with them, of course with the blessings of those who were in power in Delhi. There is surely disagreement among the keen Kashmir watchers whether it was 1987 only, which forced the youth to pick up the gun. That is debatable but one thing is clear that those who were part of MUF had reposed faith in Indian democracy (which later proved to be for last time) to get their grievances redressed and adopt a democratic way to find solution of their political and other problems.
It is significant that those who were associated with MUF, later called shots in the armed resistance that followed in next two years and even continue to do so today. HIzbul Mujahideen supremo Salahuddin was the candidate from Amira Kadal and he fought under his real name Mohammad Yousuf Shah. It is an open secret that he was winning but was declared having been defeated.
There were many other cases in which rigging became the order under the National Conference and Congress’s coalition regime Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik was actively associated with the process along with others who later ended up in becoming top guerilla commanders. Today’s “uncompromising” separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani was elected as MLA in that election along with three others. But many of those who were on winning wicket were not allowed to win and instead thrown into jail and tortured along with their supporters.
MUF may not have won many seats and some observers at that time would put their number at not more than 15. It would not mean secession and even could not pave way for them getting the power. But the way the alternative was crushed under the might of force the government used, it closed the chapter for a genuine electoral process forever. I as an active supporter of MUF as a student am witness to the repression the state let lose after the sham elections.
These elections vindicated people’s perception for all times to come that New Delhi only wanted a “selection” in Kashmir and not an election. Election may not have been an end to anything what we witnessed in later years but it would lend credence to a democratic process in Kashmir. The wholesale rigging in elections, which many reputed Indian authors later acknowledged in their works, was done with Rajiv Gandhi at the helm in Delhi and Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar.
This is where lies the difference. In Delhi no power could stop AAP to march ahead to cultivate a space for alternative politics. They used the real democracy that is in practice in rest of India but was never allowed to cross Pathankot to enter Jammu and Kashmir. Acknowledging that Delhi’s dealings in Kashmir have not been fair, the then Prime Minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee had to send out an assurance from Red Fort on August 15, 2002 that the elections would be free and fair. Even elections in 1977, 2002 and 2008 are counted as fair in Jammu and Kashmir but people at large do not reconcile with this fairness.
They do not see elections as en end to the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. Since so much of blood has been spilled over the streets, hundreds have disappeared, thousands are displaced and homeless, the sense of alienation and frustration has increased and unfortunately Congress has continued to promote the disputed legacy. AAP and those people of Delhi were lucky to have a space in Indian democracy and unlike people of Jammu and Kashmir they have now ability to show the way for a change for rest of India. But here the “democracy” is thrust and managed and the spaces are chocked.
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