Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of Omar’s tears and Mehbooba’s wails

By Naseer A Ganai
What else can the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah do expect crying and, in between taking long pauses, start crying again. It is an art and he is trying to perfect it.
But he is not the only one, who has cried in the Assembly. He has got a good crying company.

Recent history of J&K reveals that Dr. Farooq Abdullah introduced this technique of “cries and long pauses” in his speeches in J&K Assembly after he became chief minister in 1996. He cried in J&K Assembly many a times. He cried when five persons were killed Patheribal fake encounter. Dr Abdullah spoke in the House in choking voice, when the then Deputy Prime Minister, L.K Advani, rejected autonomy resolution passed by the State Assembly. But he didn't step down and remained with the BJP led NDA government, knowing well that when cries can do the job, why lose the job by resigning.

Dr Abdullah, however, would not shed tears while crying.

Later, Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tried to emulate Dr. Abdullah. But she perfected it and remained always in a perpetual state of melancholy while speaking in the Assembly. She learned it in early 2000 when she would visit houses of victims of human rights abuses. She would cry and at times would shed one or two tears. Those days, Mehbooba’s heart would bleed on every bullet fired in Kashmir.

But once PDP came to power, she regained her composure and restrained her heart from going astray.

After her Muzaffer Hussain Baig, the then deputy chief minister and PDP leader, added more pathos to the melancholic speeches of J&K Assembly. Speaking in the Assembly, somewhere in 2004 during permanent residence (disqualification) bill, Baig threatened of resignation and accused New Delhi of “betrayal”.

Addressing to New Delhi, Baig roared! “What if bill is passed? When have you trusted Kashmiris, you have always stabbed them…Kashmiris have never ruled Kashmir. Kashmiris have been always at your beck and call,” Baig said this and more.

His voice cracked during the speech, but he withheld his tears. Many thought Baig the Caesar will leave Brutus soon and will resign. He did not. But newspapers next day wrote about Baig's emotional speech and his threat of resignation.

There's news these days that Baig has finally submitted his resignation to the speaker. But he has added a caveat to it. That first the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, should resign. He knows Omar will do anything except resigning.

So one should learn art of tendering resignations from Baig. He is resignation artist. He resigns and at the same time never resigns.

But Baig should be given credit for making Abdul Rashid Dar, the then chairman of the Upper House, to cry in the legislative council. In 2004, Dar was chairman of the council and Baig was the Deputy Chief Minister and Law Minister. He gave an impassioned speech in the House and reminded Dar that the opposition National Conference was falsely accusing him of sabotaging the Permanent Residence (disqualification) Bill, which divested women marrying outside the state of the right to property.

 "You are an honest man, you cannot do it and you have not done it," Baig told Dar and Dar lowered his head and next the whole House heard cries of Dar. There was complete silence in the House as Dar's tears made contact with ground. It was the first time in the Assembly that tears actually fell and touched the ground.

In 2008, PDP withdrew support to the Ghulam Nabi Azad led government. Mehbooba Mufti in her speech in the Assembly targeted Azad and Congress for transferring land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. She almost wept when she talked about killing of protesters.

Azad responded her with an equally emotional speech. Omar Abdullah was watching Azad from the visitor’s gallery. Perhaps he was learning those days. Azad almost broke down during the speech and finally he gave a long pause before informing the House that he is meeting the Governor to submit his resignation.

In the recent history of the J&K Assembly, Azad’s speech is the only emotional speech that culminated into resignation. Others just cried.

So there's nothing new about Omar Abdullah crying in the Assembly. There is history of wailing legislators and chief ministers. And Omar Abdullah joined this history book in 2010 when he said that his heart bleeds over the death of 112 boys. The question, how it all happened, always haunts him, Omar had said. He gave a long pause and then sat down.

PDP was expecting that he will resign. But he didn't. This time too PDP hoped that he will resign but he didn't.  He cannot resign. Because, he knows that once he resigns, PDP will lose no time in siding with congress to form the next government.

So Dear heart! Cry whenever things go bad in Kashmir but never resign.
Tears help. It adds to drama. It gives some good TV coverage and masala to TV anchors.

They ask in the evening: “Tell us Sajjad Lone, will Omar's tears help?

"I don't think so. He along with PDP should resign," replies Sajjad.

Will he? Will Mehbooba resign?

Then the buck stops there.

Next day in J&K legislators elect members for the Upper House and amidst a sea of tears greet each other. Happy moments!

Life of ruling elite in Kashmir looks like a soap opera. Full of dramatic moments, full of emotions, full of tears, and in between, there're some happy moments. Where you Ekta Kapoor?

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