Dr Shah Faesal’s reclaiming a new electoral politics after resigning from civil services in India’s Kashmir seems neither vapid nor promising at the moment. The prominent youth icon shot to fame when he topped the Indian Civil Services (IAS) in 2010. He keeps every body guessing and amid his much talked about resignation from the prestigious civil services a few days ago and all the hullabaloo aftermath from all quarters even in the national media and 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 politically high charged amid a high political culture and at a time where mainstream politics is already on the backfoot after PDP’s declining graph.He 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 en masse are right now paying much attention to his surprising exit and treating it a huge sacrifice by him for the conflict bitten masses, they see in him a messaih who will set everything right,bring a revolution which he seems to be exploiting fully at this juncture when Lok Sabha elections are round the corner.
Besides he is making a good use of media and new media to gain more ground.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 .What is more interesting is that he doesn’t deny anything nor accepts anything at the same time,he handles media efficiently with his witty answers clearly legitimising his decision and the timing of his resignation from the Indian civil services.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.He still 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, acknowledges their difficult politics and routine struggles and doesn’t demonise the mainstream equally but simultaneously is looking for a new alternative to reclaim electoral politics in Kashmir that too as per his vision(that he doesn’t want to explain fully) but in an Arvind Kejriwal 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.
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 make some impact in the country only the time will tell.
Dr Adfer Shah is a Delhi based Sociologist and Associate Editor at Eurasia Review.