Kashmir’s Shah Feasal Reimagining Electoral Politics 

Image result for Kashmir’s Shah Feasal
Image source: BBC

By Dr. Adfer Shah   14 January 2019

Dr Shah Faesal’s reclaiming and reimagining the electoral politics after resigning from the prestigious civil services in Kashmir neither seems vapid nor promising at the moment.

The prominent youth icon shot to fame when he topped the Indian Civil Services (IAS) in 2010. It was a time when the Kashmir Valley was facing one of it’s worst unrests.

After the sudden resignation a few days ago and all the hallabaloo aftermath from all quarters even in the national media and political India’s major political parties.

Dr Shah Faesal has given a series of hints about his future plans but he brings in youth and asks for their suggestions for his future plans which can be a well thought out strategy to gain more popular support in a place like Kashmir that is politicaly high charged amid a high political culture and at a time where mainstream politics is already on the backfoot after PDP’s declining graph due to series of civilian killings during their rule.

Faesal  is trying to borrow pro-people politics from New Delhi’s CM Arvind Kejriwal and simultaneously feels inspired by Imran Khan’s steep rise to PM’s position from being a sports celebrity in Pakistan.

Shah Faesal undoubtedly is a celebrity especially amid youth and enjoys being a youth icon and is widely followed on social media in the state even in the country.

The youth enmasse are right now paying much attention to his surprising exit and treating it a huge sacrifice by him for the conflict bitten masses.

Now a majority of them  see in him a messiah who is going to set everything right, many think he has the ability to bring a revolution which he seems  to be exploiting fully at this juncture when India’s national elections (Lok Sabha elections) are round the corner.

Besides he is making a good use of media and new media to gain more ground in the valley.

The beauty in his oratory and articulation is further wooeing masses who feel themselves to be a part of a newly formed Shah Faesal cult  and are ready to back him in whatever decision he takes as far as joining the mainstream politics is concerned. What is more interesting at the moment  is that neither he denies anything nor accepts anything at the same time,he is handling media efficiently with his witty answers clearly legitimising his decision, asking people not to judge him hastily and give him some time.

He also is justifying the  timing of his resignation from the Indian civil services citing Indian atrocities in Kashmir. He continues to be the youth icon, a pro-kashmir,pro-minority and pro-human rights in the valley by speaking on the lost human dignity in Kashmir due to prolonged conflict situation and rise in civilian killings.

Amid this all he continues to be the civil services role model despite quitting the services since he finely speaks about the rising safety concerns and marginalisation of minorities, violence  and their invisibilization,  while speaking about the grandeur of Indian civil services at the same time. Also he aptly justifies his exit and a possible entry to the mainstream politics while acknowledging its opportunities and potential.

Surprisingly  he has even been able to please Hurriyat (separatist camp in Kashmir), acknowledges their difficult politics and routine struggles (but politely denies joining them) and doesn’t demonize the mainstream equally but simultaneously is looking for a new alternative to reclaim, reimagine and disrupt the electoral politics in Kashmir that too as per his vision (that he doesn’t want to explain fully right now) but in an Arvind Kejriwal (people centric politics) way.

As of now he hasn’t joined any party and majority of the youth are supporting him, writing their suggestions to him though a few think his coming  to politics and  manufacturing a kind of Shah Faesal’s wave  at this juncture may be the handiwork  of agencies to give  yet another integrationist  and nationalist turn to Kashmir politics where secessionist tendencies keep rising in the politically unstable valley.

What is his out of box solution to the Kashmir issue? What different has he to offer to the alienated Kashmiris? Will he become Kashmir’s Kejriwal through his pro-people politics, will he be able to provide a real political alternative in Kashmir where people feel alienated due to turmoil and poor governance by mainstream parties or will he form his own party (which he likely may) and rise to big positions like Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan, will his act of defiance against the system make some impact in the country or in the valley only the time will tell.