Sunday, September 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India

J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Infighting in Cong, BJP breather
for NC
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 22
National Conference leadership is watching with amusement the dissensions within several mainstream political parties and the separatist conglomerate, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, in Jammu and Kashmir.

Due to bad governance in the past five years the National Conference had, no doubt, suffered erosion in its strength, reasons to feel unnerved by the three major political organisations, the Congress, the BJP and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, which had, in recent months, targeted the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and his ministerial colleagues.

Dr Abdullah had also been suggested to remain careful about the plan of forming a third front in the state. However, failure to rope in important political leaders for the third front is said to give some relief to the National Conference leadership. The leadership has received reports that the third front was being formed to dislodge the National Conference in the next Assembly poll.




The proposed third front could not have posed a serious challenge because leaders like Prof Saifuddin Soz, Ghulam Hassan Malik, a former Minister, CPM leader, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami and others, had yet to become popular among the masses, like the APHC, the Congress, the PDP, and the BJP.

An activist of Ikhwan, the counter-insurgent group fighting against militants alongside the security forces, holding his baby inside a camp in Anantnag.
An activist of Ikhwan, a counter-insurgent group fighting against militants alongside the security forces, holding his baby inside a camp in Anantnag. Hundreds of such activists are fighting against militants in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Pulwama and are living under a constant threat from militants, away from their homes.
 — Photo by Amin War
Supporters of the militant-sponsored strike burning USA flag during a protest demonstration at Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar on Friday.
Supporters of the militant-sponsored strike burning the US flag during a protest demonstration at Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar on Friday. 
— PTI photo

The way militants gained supremacy over the APHC, which was demonstrated in Kashmir in the Friday bandh, the 23-party conglomerate has seemingly lost teeth to tear at its rival, the National Conference. Apart from gradual shrink in its influence among the people, the internal dissensions have dimmed its lustre. There are open ideological differences between the moderates and the hardliners and personal conflict between Mr Abdul Gani Lone and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, two senior members of the Hurriyat Executive Committee.

The two-year old PDP rose like a meteor but within this period the entire show is being run by father and daughter, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ms Mehbooba Sayeed. Two senior leaders, Ghulam Qadir Pardesi and Mr Ghulam Nabi Lasjan, have left the PDP. While Pardesi has joined the National Conference, the Mir would follow suit in case the National Conference agreed to field him from Ghadoora Assembly constituency. Three other senior party leaders are said to be in search of a new opening.

If goes to the credit of the Mufti that he has built the organisation from a scratch and within two years the PDP has its bases in the entire state. He has been the only mainstream political leader who has travelled to all district and tehsil headquarters in the state and held public rallies and party conventions there. But he has limitations in carrying his organisation much too far because people have become aware of his “balancing act” by gunning for Dr Abdullah on one hand and on the other expressing concern over human rights violations. And this concern is expressed whenever there are some true or fake violations on the part of the security forces.

Part of the National Conference worry is over with the growing dissensions in the Congress and the BJP. The dissidents in the Congress have become open while demanding the head of the PCC Chief Mohammed Shafi Qureshi. In the past two years the two sides in the Congress, have remained totally busy in resolving the problem of leadership. And senior leaders belonging to both sides have spent days and weeks in Delhi in a bid to outwit each other. The organisational activities have come to a halt and whenever public rallies or party conventions are held the leaders indulge in mud-slinging against one group or the other. And majority of Congress supporters have lost interest and are no longer prepared to keep the party flag fluttering.

The tussle between the RSS and the BJP at the national level has had its impact in Jammu and Kashmir. The result is that even the eight-member BJP legislators are as much divided as others in the organisation. Despite the fact that Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Union Minister for Food Processing, continues to be the most influential among the party workers and supporters, his job of keeping the organisation together has been made difficult by a couple of MLAs said to be more close to the National Conference leadership than to the BJP high command.

No doubt these developments have increased political vacuum in the state, leaving major political parties toothless in giving a political fight to the separatists, they have given relief to the National Conference leadership. The result is that Dr Abdullah continues to be the tallest political figures and indispensable as far as Kashmir affairs are concerned.


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