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Today's Bulletin - Saturday, June 22, 2024



Kashmir’s politics wears a new look: Speeches and sloganeering run in the family

Kashmir’s politics wears a new look: Speeches and sloganeering run in the family

 Certain qualities and skills, as the proverb goes, run in the family. What the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir have shown is that political interests, the art of speech-making in particular, too are being passed on from one generation of politicians to the next.

The sons and daughters of political leaders, starting with former chief ministers (CM) to jailed ex-legislators, have been seeking votes for them and spearheading poll campaigns for their respective parties.
National Conference’s Omar Abdullah is often accompanied by sons Zahir and Zamir, who seem to be picking up the turns and tricks of politics.
Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party also found her rock in the form of daughter Iltija Mufti, running a high-octane campaign for not just Mufti but the party at large. Iltija shot to limelight after the abrogation of Article 2019 when she took over her jailed mother’s social media.
Saddam Azad, the son of another former CM, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has also been helping his father and the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP). Jailed former legislator Engineer Rashid’s son Abrar, meanwhile, has also been a hit on the campaign trail.
A keen observer of words
Zamir and Zahir for starters, have toured several parts of Kashmir with their father, who contested the high-stakes poll from Baramulla against Sajad Lone and Engineer Rashid.
“Both of us attended several rallies and programmes across Kashmir. We were able to build new friendships, especially among youngsters,” said Zamir, 27, a Masters graduate in International Relations.
He feels that he has already started learning the nuances of politics and with his brother, , two years younger and a criminal lawyer who studied in London, keenly watches when his father addresses people during rallies. “Apart from my father and grandfather, I like the speeches of Nazir Gurezi and Javeed Baig. Almost all National Conference leaders have good oratory skills.”
Zahir says the Land to Tiller Act introduced by his great grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was a big contribution that helped Kashmir, “I like accompanying my father and always enjoy new relationships.”
The magic of mother tongue
Iltija Mufti, 35, who has been campaigning tirelessly for her mother in south Kashmir and Poonch-Rajouri, has struck an emotional chord with the people, especially women both young and old. “I work and campaign for my party just like an ordinary worker. I want to follow in the footsteps of my mother and grandfather,” she says.
On the campaign for the first time, Iltija has focussed on building personal connections with women folk while continuing to work as the media advisor for her mother. “There were many villages where women wanted me to visit and meet them during the campaigning,” she says.
She terms her grandfather late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed a man of “unparalleled honesty” and “integrity”.
“He founded PDP with a vision of peace with dignity and we will fulfil what he truly envisioned for his people,” Iltija, who has received a lot of love and affection from people, says. Many of her speeches in Gojri, Pahari, have gone viral on social media. “I just try to learn the languages of people where I am scheduled to visit to establish a connection with them.”
Saddam Azad, who also joined the campaign for the DPAP, a political party established by his father two years ago after he parted ways with the Congress, has described himself as a regular party worker. He has been promoting the party on social media, participating in rallies and programmes.
“Despite regional parties defending pellet gun use in Kashmir, DPAP chairman Jenab @ghulamnazad courageously opposed it, highlighting its potential to alienate youth and erode trust. He advocated for humane governance and ensured accountability for custodial deaths…Together, we shall rebuild Jammu and Kashmir,” Saddam recently wrote on ‘X’ accentuating his father’s message.
Slogans catch the eye
Abrar Rashid, who is pursuing Masters in Botany, spearheaded the campaign for his jailed father Engineer Abdul Rashid. Within days of joining the campaign, he was able to galvanise workers and draw eyeballs, turning the contest on the seat into a triangular one.
His fiery speeches caught the youth’s attention and he was a household name across Kashmir, known for the art of short speeches and election sloganeering as he stood atop vehicles. “Your vote can get my father released. I haven’t seen him for the last five years. My father was detained just for highlighting issues of common Kashmir,” he roared in one of his speeches amid applause from a massive crowd, one that stood testament to Kashmir’s newfound love for political speeches.

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