PDP hits the streets, again: Campaign for Article 35-A or politics of relevance?

After maintaining criminal silence over Article 35-A while in power, PDP is now out to defend it on roads. Between power and powerlessness, Mehbooba Mufti’s ‘desperate-for-relevance’ outfit is apparently trying to make hay while the sun is shining.

Before making an awkward street appearance with a select few party faces in defence of the Article 35-A, PDP politicians-turned-protesters — now daring New Delhi in Srinagar: Hosh Mein Aawo (Behave) would mostly stay behind the multi-layered security cover inside their government quarters to avoid talking on Article 35-A.

That was only a few months back. And now, in the state of powerlessness, the party has joined the growing Save Article 35-A campaign in Kashmir and demonstrated its vintage knack to thrive on Kashmir’s troubled waters.

The party’s weekend move, however, largely became an abhorrent sight for many disgruntled onlookers in Poloview Srinagar, the official party address. By sticking to the old guards, many said, PDP—grappling with in-house revolt and public ire—chose the massive public campaign to strike some semblance on the sliding ground.

A little pep-talk with the party foot-soldiers—who lately became tearful after their sentimental chief equated the perished unholy alliance with hemlock—sounded upbeat about their campaign. “Not everything we do is for cheap politics,” said a PDP supporter of Khursheed Alam camp. “It’s a do-or-die situation for all of us. Should we sit back and watch outsiders to rob us from our lands?”

But such passionate talks ended up with flashing grins. Some of the party supporters holding placards in defence of the State Subject Law were also smirking and sniggering over the newfound vigour. However, as the scorched sun left most of them parched and tanned, Alam—PDP’s city face—spoke of desperate measures in desperate times.

In the growing pitch, however, one could spot the familiar party faces, who were shuddering to speak on the issue till recently. But barely two days before the hearing on Article 35-A in the Supreme Court of India, they decided to show up and sounded akin to spokespersons of some activist outfit.

“But why isn’t anyone from PDP talking about the issue, when your ally is openly talking about its abrogation,” I asked PDP general secretary, Nizam-ud-din Bhat inside his multi-layer security government quarter in Srinagar some months back. Then, the courtroom crusade against Article 35-A was fanning tensions and trouble in the valley.

ALSO READ: As D-Day over 35-A approaches, floodgates might open in ‘indifferent’ Jammu, Ladakh

“I would rather not talk on this issue,” Bhat sheepishly turned down the interview.

“But why?”

“See, we’ve to follow the party command and consensus. Only Mehbooba Ji or law minister Haq Khan are authorised to speak on this matter.”

Within 500 metre radius from his residence, Haq Khan was busy attending a delegation from Lolab inside his official quarter.

“Listen, just cut it! Let’s rather talk about my achievements as a law minister,” Khan set the ball rolling.

“But Khan Sahab, why can’t you speak as a law minister on the issue which is snowballing into a major crisis in the state right now?”

“Look, you need to understand something. My views or my party’s take on the issue can be used against us in Supreme Court. But let me assure you, we’ve engaged the best attorney of the country to plead our case in the apex court.”

ALSO READ: Hearing on Article 35A: Is the State Govt’s defence ‘extremely weak’?

“But, how should one read both the coalition government’s as well as your party’s overwhelming silence on the issue, when your ally BJP is shouting at the top of their voices on it?”

“[Hesitatingly] I can’t comment on that. But what I can tell you is that we’re assured of our case…” the interview ended.

Such fearful and concealed conduct from PDP—earlier shunted out by its ally BJP as some spent-force—itself betrays their sudden defiance over the issue now.

But as the date of hearing draws closer, the Saturday’s street show itself makes PDP’s detractors believe that it’s a shot to relevance, in the garb of the campaign.


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