Politicians are known for changing their stands, viewpoints, opinions and even their political philosophies for their personal and political interests and in their attempt to get closer to seat of power. Gone are the days when political leaders stood by their philosophies and refused to make compromises. They suffered both politically and physically but never changed their ideology and belief. For their principled stands and for their political ideologies, these leaders would command respect for the masses and would always be treated with much reverence. However, things have changed and in present times expecting a politician to remain honest and dedicated to his ideology is asking for a moon. Politicians in today’s world have only one goal: to capture power, by hook or by crook. To achieve this they are ready to sell even their conscience not to speak of their ideology. Barring few exceptions such a practice has become a common rule across India where almost every day we see the so called leaders crossing floors, changing parties, swapping loyalties and disowning their earlier ideologies.
In Kashmir such theatrics were hardly witnessed and floor crossing of political personalities was very rare. However, August 5, last year, did not bring only changes to the political history and geography of Jammu and Kashmir but it also changed the nature and politics of many of our so called leaders, mostly those who had been part of the establishment for decades. August 5 massive changes were soon followed by mass exodus of senior functionaries from different political parties, mostly PDP and Congress, who later gathered under the umbrella of Apni Party with businessman turned politician and a senior member of PDP-BJP coalition, Altaf Bukhari as their leader.
We don’t want to comment on the merits or demerits of this party or its stand on issues that form the core of Kashmir politics. It is a common knowledge that Apni Party was floated to “fill the vacuum” that was created with the mass arrests of senior political leaders and other functionaries of the parties that used to defend the erstwhile state’s special status and the privileges it was entitled to. On the very outset Bukhari and other functionaries of the outfit make it amply clear that for them special status and the privileges attached with it was a closed chapter that can’t be reopened and that people have to accept the changes made by the centre and live within parameters.
We don’t want go into the merits and demerits of this agenda of outfit too but what we are agitated that in defending the agenda party leaders have now started making false and highly objectionable claims that are far far from reality and that are meant to malign and defame the historical facts. Latest in this case if the interview of Altaf Bukhari in which besides other things he has dragged Islam while talking about Article 35A of the constitution saying its provisions were against Islam. In his words: About removal of 35A, we were 100 per cent sure even when we were in government. We had told Mehbooba ji let’s modify Article 35A as it is against Islam. Islam provides property rights to women, but she didn’t listen”.
Apni Party’s yearning for the seat of power and its close association with powers that be, does not mean its leaders should indulge in making deceitful statements to gain appeasement. There was no religious issue involved at all in this provision and it was applicable to every citizen of the state irrespective of caste, creed or religion. In fact this decision was taken by Dogra ruler to meet the demands of Kashmir’s minority community who felt their identity was threatened by the influx of outsiders (mostly Muslims) from outside the state. Secondly, as far as the issue of gender discrimination was involved, that had been rectified by the State High Court, some two decades back when in a landmark judgement the could held that women married outside Jammu and Kashmir could not be deprived of the right to own or inherit property. Bukhari held senior portfolios in coalition government and he is expected to be well versed with issues that have been dear to the party from which he started his political career. Raising the issue now and trying to give it a communal colour can be nothing but a sinister design to mislead the public opinion for gaining some petty returns. We will urge the party leaders to open their mouth only after knowing the real facts of everts they want to make comment upon.