Monday, July 8, 2013

Omar, Akbar and Congress

By Naseer A Ganai

OMAR Abdullah speaks well. Indeed, he only speaks! His dialogue delivery is perfect. He doesn't miss a point. He uses Akbar Lone’s awe and strike method. But he adds some sophistication to it.

When Akbar Lone strikes, he abuses, he brings archaic abuses, which no longer are in usage, into the public domain. He adds some spice to them, puts them in context, and then he hurls them at his opponents with all his force. That is why it is difficult to tolerate “Lone abuse.” It can exasperate anyone. It takes the opponent some time to realise when in history such and such abuses were in vogue. Either the opponent walks out or he leaves space open for Lone, or her gets very angry. This way Lone achieves his objectives.

Omar, when feels cornered, brings historical facts of Kashmir dispute and then states them with force. He adds context to his speech. The opponents have to either leave open space for Omar, or get angry or accommodate his concerns about his party. In Lone’s case there is no space for reconciliation or accommodation.

Though he has not done something substantial for the State for past five years, Omar has only worked with Congress. Congress did all the work. So much so that three of its’ cabinet rank Ministers accuse each other of corruption and all Congress leaders write to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, who among them is more corrupt.

 But now Omar feels Congress is over-working.

It seems Omar feels that Congress has a plan to oust both the National Conference and the Peoples’ Democratic Party from the scene. So the grandson of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah directly took Congress to pre-August 9, 1953. He talked about autonomy and sought financial autonomy, talked about 20,000 MW power potential of the State, called for dialogue with Pakistan, and he also talked about PDP's self-rule. And then he talked about killings by army and hanging of Afzal Guru.

He then gave some context to his speech. He mocked at all those who “consider participation of people in Panchayati elections, qualifying of IAS and other All India Competitive Examinations by Kashmiris or selection of a local youth in Indian Cricket team have solved the basic political issues.” He described their mindset as ‘small’ and ‘unfortunate.” Then he warned them: “People in Kashmir may exhibit restrain and patience over various provocations…but that does mean that their patience will always be taken for granted.” In Lone’s case you can quickly react. Here you have to first understand his meaning.

It will take months for Congress to react to what Omar did to its 'IAS , Cricket and Udaan' in Jammu and Kashmir with just one speech.
From Kashmir University to Budgam villages, Congress has a method. It wants to be everywhere. It has ambitions. It has started thinking seriously about forming its own government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.

With BJP in disarray in Jammu, new political parties coming up in the Valley, and Omar’s National Conference has nothing to show to people except his speeches, Congress started riding the high horse.
Congress is hopeful of its dream coming true. The dream of Indira Gandhi that Congress should have its government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Congress wants to rise in India and wants to take off from Jammu and Kashmir.  And the party seriously thinks that it can. That is why at a function to start work on a State run Ratle Power Project in Kishtwar, the Chief Minister’s name was missing from the plaque.

When the Qazigund-Banihal rail tunnel was inaugurated, Omar’s name was missing. At the function Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi talked about development in Jammu and Kashmir and asked people to vote. But Omar expected them to talk politics and pre-poll alliance with the NC.  They did not. Then he took refuge in L.K Advani’s statement about Article 370 -- to show to the Congress that he knows how to speak. And on Sunday he delivered the whole speech perfectly.

Speeches matter here.  You can dismiss them but Kashmiris cannot. Why is Omar’s government confining whole separatist leaders to their homes? Because Omar knows what speeches can do! They make people aware of themselves. People start thinking. And who tolerates thinking people.

From his speech Omar has played a bigger game. He told Congress selection in IAS, Cricket and other things are good but we should talk about Kashmir dispute first. He also told Congress that development, howsoever massive, cannot bring a change. That is true. That anytime anything can happen. That Udaan and other such things are immaterial until political aspect of Kashmir is resolved and that one speech can ground any Udaan here.

Omar conveyed to Congress you better be NC’s ally, pre-poll and post-poll. He has not criticized Peoples’ Democratic Party. It looks strange, but then it might be seen as a move to reach out to the PDP. Options are open here. They always are in Kashmir politics.

By asking New Delhi to initiate meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and asking New Delhi not to equate poll participation with Kashmir solution, Omar tried to reach out to both Pakistan and pro-freedom leadership. That Assembly election is fine but it doesn’t mean Kashmir dispute is over.

Such nuances can never be seen in Akbar Lone’s rapid fire sessions, which start with accusing politicians of being horse thieves at a time when they are driving Land Cruisers and ends at charging them of ‘polygamy’ without entering into marriage with all twelve wives. And revealing that he has only wife. That too from Bachpan say.

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