POLL TACTICS: Parties resort to rhetoric, rejig undone manifestos
Srinagar, Jan 23: With J&K administration gearing up for the elections, the political parties in the state have again resorted to their age-old technique: use unaccomplished manifestos with a new twist to woo the voters.
Before 2014, PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti would visit militants’ families.
In their manifesto then, the party promised that if brought to power, it would initiate dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat, and also demand an end to the killings in Kashmir.
The PDP was highly vocal then about revocation of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
Mehbooba, during her election campaign in 2014, once said the people of Kashmir will never sell their conscience to support the BJP.
But then she allied with the same party and at one point in time during 2016 uprising tried to justify civilian killings with her infamous ‘toffee or milk remark’.
Fast forward to 2019 and we see Mehbooba trying to weave the same story: visiting militant families, calling for Indo-Pak dialogue, talks with the separatist groups and end to civilian killings.
Recently, she even said that PDP would seek return of power projects, something her party’s manifesto read in 2014 as well.
Ask PDP Chief Spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir, he says their stand about dialogue ‘has not changed’. “Whether in or out of power, our stand is clear. Talks shall be held with Pakistan and Hurriyat to find a peaceful solution to Kashmir,” Mir told The Kashmir Monitor.
Mir said it was during Mufti Sayeed’s tenure “when peace returned to the valley”.
“We even formed the government with the BJP based on an agenda. Unfortunately, it could not finish its term,” he said.
Mehbooba Mufti played to the gallery when scores of civilians were killed during the National Conference-Congress government in 2010.
In 2016, National Conference (NC) leader, Omar Abdullah, returned her the favour.
Take NC as a case in point. Its repeated promise of the restoration of Autonomy is yet again being glossed up and presented to Kashmir electorate these days.
Party president, Farooq Abdullah recently urged Government of India (GoI) to invite Hurriyat and Pakistan for talks and asserted that if voted to power, his government, on very first day, would set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to probe the killings in the state.
General Secretary of the NC, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said restoration of Autonomy has always been the party’s agenda.
“We always advocate for talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat. The AFSPA has to be revoked and security forces have to be pulled out from civilian areas,” Sagar said.