The Cambridge Dictionary defines histrionics as, “very emotional and energetic behaviour that has no sincerity and real meaning.” This is a special trait of some of our politicians both the ones who swayed us in the past as well as of a number of present ones. The instant case is the speech of Omar Abdullah in the ongoing assembly session on the killing of an innocent man in Baramulla by the trigger happy army troops. The emotional speech made by him regarding this incident and many others as well as his continued repetition about repealing of AFSPA was quite impressive and moving. However, the moot point is what is the depth of sincerity in the words uttered? He mentioned the walk out of PDP as they could do so and give vent to their strong emotions about this incident. But excused himself from doing so because he was sitting on the chair of the Chief Minister. However, if he really feels that there has been wrong use of AFSPA at many places and the instant incident is a living example of the same, then why does he not resign instead of sticking to the chair and earn the good will of the people who have been suffering from this draconian legislation? Is he really courageous enough to take such a step?
This is not the first emotional outburst from him. He had made a stronger impact with his speech in the Parliament on the question of transfer of land to Amarnath Shrine Board. That was the speech which propelled him into limelight as a young and budding Kashmiri leader. Then his emotional speech and threatened resignation in the state legislature on being accused of sexual offences was probably the best performance so far. It was much more real and convincing then the recent speech. Incidentally, both these out bursts were triggered by Muzaffar Baig, himself a master of histrionics! He too made an emotional speech and implored the Chief Minister to resign on the subject. To convince the public he offered his “conditional” resignation. One fails to understand that when a person really feels hurt and wants to dissociate himself from such happenings why he should offer “conditional” resignation. He should have straight away quit declaring that he would not like to be the part of a house which is impotent and unable to redress the sufferings of the people! Again this is not his first emotional outburst.
The past master in histrionics in the recent times has been Dr. Farooq Abdullah. The classic example was his shedding tears in 1996 during the oath taking ceremony as the Chief Minister. The scene was televised live throughout the world. However, he has the quality of appearing serious and truthful. He also knows the pulse of the people. During his earlier tenure there were many jokes attributed to him when he would ride a motor-bike and roam all over the city and sometimes drive to Gulmarg carrying some famous beauties on his pillion. Even Indian Government did not trust him fully as they could never know what was deep in his heart. He perfectly understood the saying of a British travel writer who had visited Kashmir long time back that a kind word and a joke would get the best out of a Kashmiri. However, with the passage of time and many somersaults helost the magic which he could play with his histrionic behaviour. May be the age has been catching with him?
There was only one leader in Kashmir whose main charisma was his capacity for histrionics. That was the tallest of them all, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He moved people emotionally so much that they would cry. His recitation of the verses of the holy Quran and the couplets of the poet Dr.Iqbal would move the listening crowds to tears. He was capable of raising the sentiments and the emotions of the audience of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris to such a pitch that they posed blind trust in his leadership. Unfortunately, he did not honour the blind trust the people had posed in him. In spite of leading them from the pillar to the post, they still followed him blindly because of his capability and capacity to move people emotionally.His final somersault in 1975 completely wiped out the magic.
Tragically, the great weakness of Kashmiris is that instead of following logic and reason, they get swayed by emotions and sentiments which always land them in a mess. May be because they have suffered so much for so long that they catch at any straw! There is a saying that one can fool all the people some of the time; some of the people all the time but one cannot fool all the people all the time. The only exception may be Kashmiris who have been fooled all the time and that too with their own consent. May be the new generation changes this age old weakness and the people claiming to be popular leaders won’t be able to fool them all the time!