A mystery called the Third Front

By K.N. Pandita

This autumn in general and this week, in particular, saw high political drama being enacted in the summer capital of the eState. As the day was drawing near when Governor’s rule had either to go or get extended for another term, hectic activity was going on behind the curtain in which political permutation and combination were passionately discussed. Those who had to bear the maximum disappointment and developmental deficit were the people of State on the whole.

BJP’s Withdrawing from the partnership with the PDP, which resulted in the fall of the coalition government, came late, very late. The damage was already done. BJP policy planners realized their mistake belatedly and then they began making frantic efforts of damage control. Latest events necessitating the dissolution of the assembly under constitutional provisos show that BJP not only failed in playing the right card at right time but more sadly facilitated the leadership of the Valley-based mainstream political parties to initiate, debate and fructify convergence on a two-point alliance of understanding viz. no scrapping of Article 370 and permanent retention of Article 35-A. With this formula as its hallmark PDP chairperson was authorized by the triumvirate to approach the Governor for recognition of the three-party alliance as claimants to forming the government. Don’t imagine that they did not envisage in advance the reaction of the Governor to the proposal of forming the government and putting an end to the ongoing political impasse.

Going by the Constitution the Governor should have taken cognizance of the claim of PDP Chairman to form a coalition government after she had satisfactorily proved that she would be heading a majority of the members of the legislative assembly. Ordering the dissolution of the assembly when the triumvirate had staked its claim for forming a government goes against the spirit of the constitution. However, it appears the Governor has taken recourse to the prerogative of considering the ground situation as the basis for ordering the dissolving of the Assembly. PDP had failed to deliver the goods and some of its members had deserted revealing big fissures within the party on an ideological basis.

This notwithstanding, the triumvirate had anticipated Governor’s refusal to oblige them. That is precisely what they worked for. It will be noted that by choosing to remain silent over the Governor’s decision going against them, they are happy to have trapped BJP in a vicious circle. Not raising a cry against the decision of the Governor is a very calculated and rather a mysterious move. NC leader passed on the buck to PDP when asked if his party challenges the decision of the Governor in a court of law.

Although NC leader Omar Abdullah says that he would not commit on the question of his party and PDP jointly fighting the election to the Assembly or to the Parliament in 2019, yet the BJP indirectly provided them with the scope of tuning on the same wavelength with regard to their relations with the State of India should they be in a winning situation. The Governor has helped them take the initiative of forming an alliance in Kashmir valley. In doing so, the two other regions of the State, Jammu and Ladakh get marginalized. If the Governor ultimately aims at trifurcation of the State he has given a good handle to the mainstream Kashmir-centric political parties. The machinations will force Jammu and Ladakh political circles and leadership to think very seriously how they have to manage the affairs of the people of their respective regions.

This mystery has another dimension. A day before the order for dissolving the assembly was announced, PDP senior leader, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, the former MP and the former Deputy Chief Minister in Mufti Saeed cabinet gave a startling statement to the press. He welcomed the Third Front if it came into existence and even said it should come into existence. He charged the PDP only imitating NC in boycotting municipal elections. He said he was disillusioned with PDP and that Peoples Conference was like his home and its chief Sajjad was like his son.

Obviously, Muzaffar Baig’s concept of the Third Front is not the triumvirate – the sporadic alliance of NC, PDP and Congress mentioned above. He has a Third Front in mind comprising the dissidents from all the three parties under discussion plus the independent or the lumpen, who are disillusioned with their respective mainstream political parties, their ideologies and their manoeuvrings. This seems a novel idea and perhaps also speaks for a more rational line of thinking among sections of Kashmiri civil society based on the presumption that Kashmiri masses have had enough of misleading and misguiding orientation during last three decades. The conventional leadership had failed them and the time had come for Kashmiris to be reborn as a nation to walk the talk by itself and not with crutches provided from outside. In any case, the Third Front remains a mystery. But at least indicates turmoil in internal politics in Kashmir valley allowing the other two regions of Jammu and Ladakh to watch on the sidelines and assess what implications will be there for their respective regions once this surging turmoil settles down.

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