Former Jammu & Kaahmir chief minister, Farooq Abdullah has been known for making anti-India and pro-separatist/ pro-Pakistan remarks in the past. However, there was a sudden change of events during Atalji’s prayer meeting and the National Conference leader was spotted chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Later on, he was heckled during Eid prayers with slogabs of “Farooq Abdullah go back” and “hum Kya chahte, azaadi”. Farooq Abdullah has condemned those who heckled in stringent terms. He said that he is not going to be frightened like this and if they want freedom, they should first look for freedom from unemployment and poor health. One wonders how and why this sudden change happened. While many would like to see this as a wonderful surprise or a welcome change, it should actually be seen with skepticism. The Abdullahs have always had a shoddy track record. It is difficult to accept that Farooq Abdullah would suddenly turn nationalist.
Mein darne wala nahi hun. Agar yeh samajhte hai ki ise azadi aayegi toh mein inko kehna chahta hun ki pehle begaari,beemari aur bhookmari se azadi pao: Farooq Abdullah on protests against him during Eid prayers for raising'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogans during Vajpayee's prayer meet pic.twitter.com/F0dCBoDJ80
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2018
It is possible that Abdullah has suddenly turned nationalist in order to revive his relationships with the BJP. He might be trying to invoke his close relations with Atal ji during the days of NDA, when Abdullah was an ally in the Vajpayee government. Atal ji had mastered the art of coalition government in true terms, successfully running a coalition government involving 23 political parties. One of these parties was Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference. It must be noted that despite getting an autonomy resolution for the state of Jammu & Kashmir passed in the legislative assembly, Abdullah remained a constituent of the NDA throughout its tenure. Recently, Farooq Abdullah sounded appreciative of how Atal ji ran the coalition government despite difficult odds. It seems that Abdullah has realised how it is of no use to be a part of the anti-BJP alliance which is already in tatters facing rift between several leaders forming part of the grand alliance. Understanding the political realities, he is now trying to be amenable towards the BJP by masquerading as a nationalist. In January this year, Abdullah even went on to praise Prime Minister Modi. The former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s diplomatic efforts and said that he had the courage to hold talks with Pakistan. Abdullah even said that Prime Minister Modi seemed to be the person who would take talks with Pakistan to a logical end. In the past, Abdullah had asked the government to tread on Vajpayee’s path and hold talks with the separatists and Pakistan. All these factors indicate a conscious effort by Abdullah to impress upon the BJP.
There is another possible reason why Abdullah suddenly tried to change his image from someone continuously batting for the separatists and other anti-national elements in the valley to a nationalist who would even chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. This reason could be a familial obligation. Abdullah’s son in law, Sachin Pilot, a senior Congress leader is also gearing up for elections and needs help in order to rise in status within the Congress. Instead of a father-in-law who speaks incessantly against India’s interests, Pilot needs a father-in-law who is at least supposedly a nationalist. This would help Pilot politically and electorally. Remember, Sachin Pilot has to contest elections outside the valley and therefore it doesn’t help to be a proponent of Kashmiri autonomy. Nothing can be better for Sachin Pilot than a nationalist former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister campaigning for him. It seems that both of them have realised this and have therefore, got into election mode.
We must not get fooled by Abdullah’s sudden show of patriotism and newfound love for India. At the end of the day, this is just a political gimmick with the upcoming elections in mind.