Politicians always think and act like politicians, first and foremost, leaving all other aspects of everyday life behind. Politics is the centre of their being and if they are not politicking, they feel like fish out of water.
Our Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is no different when he spoke that the elections in Jammu and Kashmir should not be postponed. Why? So that elections can be held while he is still the CM and that position usually does confer some advantages vis a vis political rivals.
Why does Omar not want elections to be postponed, despite the catastrophe that has hit the state? Simply because he does not want to hand over power, as an interim measure, to Governor N N Vohra, as levers are power are too precious to be left to someone else.
This also means that focusing on the task at hand, that of rescue of marooned people, is still not his priority number one. It is clinging on to power, and continuing to do so, so that he and his companions of the Congress can ride high on the relief measures and take credit.
In 2008, the last time Legislative Assembly elections were held, post-Amarnath land row agitation, they were held under Governor N N Vohra who had just taken charge. Vohra was assisted in running the government that took over after July 7, 2008, when Ghulam Nabi Azad had to tender his resignation, by former chief secretary S S Bloeria.
It looks both Vohra and Bloeria will be back steering the state for some time once Omar’s turn runs out in January 2015. It looks highly probable now that if elections are to be held in a systematic manner, and without fear and favour, these should be held only after April-May next year.
Right now, there are too many things that need to be attended to. For a beginning, those rescued from swirling waters of Jhelum will have to be rehabilitated. There will have to be rebuilding of the infrastructure. For that, things will have to be done, stepwise, some fair assessment of the damage, planning, prioritization and then execution.
Why should politicians be allowed to politicize the relief and rehabilitation efforts and try to score browny points? Why should not they be asked to work for the people, and serve them, for some months, till some semblance of normalcy returns? Why should they start taking potshots at one another now and their baser instincts be allowed to come into play much later?
These are points to ponder.
It is for the citizens to insist that they should not be asked to exercise their franchise and decide to hand over power for the next six years now, in the midst of all the destruction that they have to deal with. It is for the citizens to say that it is cruel to expect them to focus on petty politics now when their lives have been hit hard.
Is there a tradition of abdication in our ruling classes? What is wrong in expecting Omar to step aside, hand over power to Governor, and focus on rebuilding a devastated Jammu and Kashmir?
By all indications, that seems like expecting too much.