Mao Zedong was a fêted activist. He co-founded Student Associations, strengthened trade unions and advocated the need for a “Great Union of the Popular Masses”. He led communist forces in China through a long revolution beginning in 1927. Naturally, his onset as a political leader was quite strong. People loved and supported him. He soon turned into a cult figure. But then reality hit him in the face. When he utterly failed in running China, he went on a reckless track of revolutions. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution caused thousands of deaths through famine and massacres. His political campaigns were endless. And he never hesitated in purging his own comrades who dared to speak against him. He lived a life of perpetual insurgence. Mao was a successful rebel but a colossal failure as a leader.
Che Guevara once famously remarked “I have no house, wife, children, parents, or brothers; my friends are friends as long as they think like me, politically.” Che happens to be THE MOST celebrated political revolutionary of the world. He successfully led Fidel Castro’s guerrillas in their struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s military dictatorship in Cuba. After overthrowing Batista, Che made sure that all of Batista’s men are executed without any trials. He was a complete catastrophe as a leader too. He was the in-charge of the Cuban economy at the start of Castro’s government. But leadership was never his cup of tea and as a result of it, the economy under his leadership took a plunge. His haters were executed or herded into slave-labor camps. A frustrated Che then assumed the role of an eternal rebel again and headed off on his vicious crusade to impose communism on countries like Argentina, the Congo, and Bolivia. He was killed by the Bolivian army though.
Both Mao and Che can loosely be termed as politicians who were born out of the wombs of revolution. And they are also the shining examples of how revolutionaries fail in politics.
Shah Faesal is a revolutionary too, fighting a purposeless war. Shah Faesal had a penchant for attacking the government while being a government servant. Even as a bureaucrat, Shah Faesal wrote absolutely shameful social media posts which his fans termed as “bold”.
Look at this tweet for example:
Patriarchy+Population+Illiteracy+Alcohol+Porn+Technology+Anarchy = Rapistan!
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) April 22, 2018
When he was trolled by netizens and sent a notice by J&K Government, this is what he came up with:
Love letter from my boss for my sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in South Asia.
The Irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience.
I'm sharing this to underscore the need for a rule change. pic.twitter.com/ssT8HIKhIK
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) July 10, 2018
When Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed by Indian forces and ‘misguided youth in Kashmir’ created ruckus, media tried to use Shah Faesal as the model good Kashmiri. Shah Faesal urged the media not to use him as the good Kashmiri and Wani as the bad one, he even threatened to resign if the ‘propaganda’ didn’t stop.
Shah’s dissatisfaction finally got the better of him and he resigned in full public view on social media and soon announced that he is getting into politics.
To protest the unabated killings in Kashmir and absence of any credible political initiative from Union Government, I have decided to resign from IAS.
Kashmiri lives matter.
I will be addressing a press-conference on Friday.
Attached is my detailed statement. pic.twitter.com/Dp41rFIzIg
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) January 9, 2019
In comes Shehla Rashid, a JNU ‘scholar’ and a leading leftist liberal of the country. When Compared to Shah, Shehla is a dwarf but what she lacks in credentials, she more than makes up for in online popularity. The self-styled ‘Akeli-Awara-Azad’ woke feminist of JNU is a social media sensation. She was one of the prominent faces of the JNU unrest of 2016. She even ran the JNUSU when Kanhaiyya Kumar, the president of the student union was arrested under sedition charges. Shehla Rashid was also a prominent member of the Kathua protests that started to protest the heinous rape of an underage girl and soon culminated into a full-blown anti-Hindu protest. Shehla Rashid has also been accused of siphoning off money in the Kathua case, which as per some online observers led Shehla to deactivating her twitter page. Shehla Rashid has lent support to her Kashmiri comrade Shah Faesal by joining his party JKPM.
These 2 ‘social media’ celebrities have had an illustrious online career. But will it turn into political success? The short answer is no and for explaining it better we need to take a look at the career of another activist-turned-politician – Irom Sharmila.
Irom broke her 16-year-long fast (for repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act) in 2016 and leaped headfirst into political waters. Her fast had zero effects on the ground but Irom personally earned the reputation of ‘Iron Lady’. In 2017, she launched People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) party to fight against AFSPA politically. She failed. Sharmila decided to contest from the Thoubal assembly constituency against chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. She got only 90 votes. She didn’t just lose to Singh but to NOTA too which was pressed 143 times that election.
She had become, over a period of 16 years, a symbol of hope for her people and almost a geographical landmark in her city. When she decided to move, her people felt cheated. Whenever an activist takes the political plunge, the halo around them disappears and they become a part of the same group that is largely distrusted by people.
In the immortal words of Simon Bolivar- the liberator of South America “He who serves the Revolution, ploughs the Sea.”
Shah Faesal and Shehla Rashid are on their way to Oblivionville. There will be no road ahead for them after the elections and a retreat will not be on cards.