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AAP Breathes Life Into Mute, Demoralized, Lost Souls

By Raouf Rasool

30 December, 2013

"Can't die of the cold!!!! Send him out in a few less clothes and let's see if he isn't singing a different tune pretty damn quick!" This was Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s reaction to the UP Principal Secretary (Home) A K Gupta’s remark that "no one died of cold" in Muzaffarnagar relief camps. The bureaucrat, while defending the death toll in the relief camps for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar, had said on Thursday: "Children have died of pneumonia, not of cold. Nobody can die of cold. If people died of cold, nobody would have been alive in Siberia."

Past week Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inaugurated a basketball court in a park at uptown Rajbagh area here. It was the very first day of the ‘Chillai Kalaan’ -- the harshest and chilliest 40-day period of winters in Kashmir. Interestingly, what Chief Minister’s close confidante and MLA from Amirakadal constituency, who is also the provincial president of the ruling National Conference in Kashmir, said on the occasion was equally insensitive if not more than that of UP bureaucrat’s remark. Obviously Chief Minister did not react to it -- it is easy to train guns at ‘others’! But if he had, then Abdullah’s criticism of his very own Nasir Aslam Wani, should have read something like this: “Play basketball to beat the Chillai Kalaan!!!! Send Nasir out to play basketball and make sure that the electricity supply to his home is snapped (to give him a feel of what frequent, undue, unscheduled, and prolonged power-cuts mean in chilling winters) and let’s see if he still believes that Kashmiris can beat Chillai Kalaan by playing basketball!”

Come on Mr. ABC…, grow up. You have already failed people on so many different counts, more so and more recently on the power front. Now please don’t add insult to their injuries by such insensitive and mocking remarks!

Let’s hope they learn their lessons, which they will have to, as quickly as possible. The Aam Admi Party AAP) has already pushed the Congress party to margins (even if so far only in Delhi) -- and the way it is shaping a new political discourse and culture, any resistance to change may well cost the old warhorses dearly. Congress and BJP are already feeling the heat, and certainly no other party, regional or otherwise, is going to remain unharmed. Courtesy AAP, people have, for the first time, got a feeling of their power potential (people’s power); they relish it and are ready for the kill.

Democracy, it is said is a ‘way of life’ and not a formula to be ‘preserved’ like jelly. “It is a process – a vibrant, living sweep of hope and progress which constantly strives for the fulfillment of its objective in life – the search for truth, justice and dignity of man.” Over the years, the traditional polity had robbed the “world’s largest democracy” of that dynamism which is its essence, its heart and soul. There is no truth, no justice, and above all there is no dignity for the common man (Aam Admi) - the have-nots. If there is anything in it, it is the privileges and perks for those who have mastered the art of maintaining the status quo in the name of preserving democracy in the world’s second largest country (in terms of population). Finding their space shrinking with each passing day, common people too had long back recoiled into their caves knowing that they would be called out when needed – once every five years.

AAP has brought about a huge change by striking at the very roots of so many myths that were woven by the ‘thermo-politically cold haves’ to maintain their power, their privileges. Those who had dismissed AAP as a bunch of rhetorical junkies have suddenly realized that it is possible to channel the adrenaline rush towards a turbine of constructive change. That it is possible to win elections without the black and sleazy money. That, the so-called political toddlers could replace the old assembly line political jokers. That if people really have that deep desire to shake off the torpor of frustration, hopelessness, and despair, there are ways to climb out of the valley of anonymity.

AAP is not just Arvind Kejriwal or for that matter any other member(s) of his team, individually or collectively alone. AAP is, as the party itself takes pride to claim, a movement with far-reaching impact on the general political culture in India and elsewhere as well. Irrespective of whether or not, or how much AAP is able to deliver on its poll promises, fact of the matter remains that AAP’s rise has definitely lend a new direction and orientation to politics in India. Kashmir’s uniqueness aside, politics here too is not going to be same – this place can’t remain immune to the “contagions” wanting to travel northwards. They have reached here, and I am sure that no amount of masking and muffling of people’s eyes, noses and throats will help now.

(The writer is Editor of Kashmir Images, a daily English newspaper published from Srinagar and Jammu simultaneously.)


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