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20th August '2014
Badri Nathin Adri Mohar!

Badri Nath was a Wazir in the court of the Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh. His authority is supposed to have been unenforceable in spite of his being a Minister in the court of the Maharaja. He is reported to have been obliging everyone having some work with the Maharaja’s government by stamping their applications in lieu of some monetary consideration. When a person would approach him with an application, he would take some money and stamp the application as its approval. Then someone else would approach him and he would repeat the process with higher consideration and in the end none of the applications would go through. This earned him the nickname of “Badri Nathin Adri Mohar”!

In the present context, all the Kashmir Chief Ministers have been functioning as Badri Nath because of their authority too being unenforceable due to continuous orders and dictation from Delhi. They have practically no inherent power of their own even though the Kashmir constitution gives them absolute power. No Central Law is applicable in J & K without the concurrence of the State Government. However, by their malleable and demeaning attitude, the state Chief Ministers have been signing on the dotted lines. This loss of power has been gradual over the years and now the present set up makes the head of the government look like a puppet on a string.

In the beginning, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did exercise some decisive authority in regard to Kashmir as its Prime Minister. In fact, his legislation of giving land to the tiller and freezing the debts was unique in the whole sub-continent. However, his authority did not last long and he was deposed in 1953. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad exploited the weaknesses of the people and tried to outsmart Delhi which finally removed him by turning the holy relic agitation against his family.

During his second tenure starting from 1975 after the Delhi accord, the Lion of Kashmir had to truly follow in the footsteps of Badri Nath. He could not exercise absolute authority even in regard to certain areas which were within the constitution of J & K. The only thing he could do as a last attempt to retrieve the authority was the introduction of the Re-settlement Act which unnerved Delhi. Unfortunately, the intervening Chief Ministers especially G M Sadiq had totally diluted their powers through the tunnel of Article 370. This enabled the Government of India to put the Act in deep freeze even though Dr. Farooq Abdullah got it passed through the Assembly. In fact, that very action cost him his job. The same was the fate of the Autonomy Resolution passed by the State Legislature. The NDA Government threw it into the waste paper basket even without reading it!

After the death of the Lion of Kashmir, the Chief Ministers who followed him had absolutely no say. They truly acted as Badri Naths! The last one has been the epitome of all his predecessors in regard to been a spineless Chief Minister. He totally abdicated his authority. Even curfews were imposed and relaxed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. There are umpteen instances where he behaved as a totally unsure and wavering person. The starkest instance is the revocation of AFSPA. He even announced in an address to Policemen that the draconian law would go in days! However, years passed without any movement on his proposal/request. In the absence of exercising his constitutional authority of revoking the Disturbed Areas Act which would automatically make AFSPA redundant, he had no option but to request the Central Government for revocation and even review of the law. However, his umpteen pleas made no difference and he had to eat a humble pie. Same is the case with the return of NHPC power projects. In spite of repeated declarations to get these back, no progress was made. Rather, the NHPC rebuffed him! Now, in his last days of the tenure he is stamping like “Badri Nath” every paper that gets to him. However, he very well knows that these would not be honoured. Thus he can be termed to be the real and the perfect “Badri Nath” with an “Adri Mohar” of the Kashmiri proverb!

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