Right from the time of accession of Jammu & Kashmir with India, there has been leadership crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Arguably an exception in Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir hasn’t seen an astute leader who could stood by his principles and restore the faith of people in democracy. Democracy, in a vibrant nation like India, needs a leader who people can look up to, with trust and belief. History aside, we are yet to come across a principled leader in the current crop of politicians. Omar Abdullah failed people big time after his ascendency to power in 2008. He showed his incompetence and his lack of leadership qualities came to fore many a time during this period. The patriarchs in his party ensured Omar Abdullah is seen as an insider but not someone who could break the petty party rules and come across as one who delivers. His coalition with Congress saw many of the top politicians indulging in corruption and still he couldn’t bat an eye.
In 2014 Assembly Elections, people of Kashmir choose Mehbooba Mufti with the restive South Kashmir prominently voting for her party. Her soft separatism perhaps struck chord with the sentiments of people and people especially in South en- masse voted for her but she didn’t withstand the temptations of power. She asked for votes to keep BJP at bay and ended up forming government with it. She had an amazing opportunity lying before her wherein she could have brought many people into believing the power of democracy. Even Jammat-E -Islami, the hard-line politico- religious organisation that believes in separatism had covertly voted for her but she failed them all. Without going into what made her take a complete u- turn, the question is that she couldn’t defend her principles and thus ensured people lose faith in democracy.
The new face of local politics, Junaid Matto is considered an outsider to dynasty politics but in a short span of his political career he has already deserted PC for NC and now NC for PC with a soft corner for BJP. He, in his articles for local dailies, had been quite vocal against dynasty politics while being affiliated with PC but once he choose NC, he pointed his gun at PC and PDP. Now again, he made a 360 degree turnaround blaming ‘Prince’ and ‘Madam’ an apparent reference to Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti after being selected as Mayor on PC mandate. People can’t trust much with people like him occupying the positions of power.
It is important that a leader stands by his principles no matter what he preaches. Democracy in Kashmir needs an upright face who can promise things he is eager to deliver and standby. The turncoats are only helping people alienate from the electoral process and in the long run- it is suicidal for the survival of democracy.
(The author is a freelancer. Views are his own)