The 2010 IAS topper Shah Faesal Shah tells Outlook in an interview that he is surprised to see people’s reaction over his resignation from services and joining politics. He says quitting jobs to join politics is nothing new, adding his politics is for good governance and day to day issues. Excerpts:
Bureaucracy is seen very powerful in Jammu and Kashmir, why you left it to join politics?
In conflict zones, it is a fact that bureaucrats enjoy lot of power. But the fact of the matter is that the power belongs to elsewhere. That power is derived out of exigencies of the circumstances and that is in fact part of the problem. Because when bureaucracy try to appropriate power from the politicians and then try to fill in the political space, that doesn’t provide any solutions. I think that is the basic problem here. We have seen a kind depoliticisation of the political space. By which I mean that people don’t associate themselves with politics, and politics doesn’t provide any solution.
You have stated politicians are dealing with municipal problems and military with political problem…
We are dealing with political crises in the state, which is that people are dying. Youngsters are taking gun against the state. There is open rebellion against the state. But this part of the problem is being addressed as a military operation although it is a political problem. When it comes to political issues, politicians are told this is not your problem. You just focus on construction of roads and buildings and laying electricity polls. There is fundamental issue here that military is dealing with a political problem and politicians with civic issues.
Governor Satya Pal Malik wants you back.
It is not because of not getting good posting that I left the services. There is absolutely nothing wrong in the service that would have compelled me to leave. I see huge political challenge here and I want to contribute.
You had different views about electoral politics and mainstream politicians. You called them daily wagers and you are joining the same daily wagers.
Yes, that is what I want to change. I believe mainstream politicians have chosen to be daily wagers. Because they feel there is no other way around. It is not important to hold an office unless you deliver something. I want to tell politicians that I had huge career here but I am joining politics to make changes.
It is said Kashmir is a place where politicians of the stature of Sheikh Abdullah was consumed. How do you like to be a different person?
What I see is that every conflict zone has its own challenges and it is not anything unique to Kashmir. Kashmir is not the only conflict zone in the world. We have so many conflict zones. I had an opportunity of studying politics of various conflict zones across the world. My point is the perception that we are doing something that is unique is false understanding. We have seen leaders getting discredited and the leaders have been getting discredited elsewhere as well, in other parts of the world. So I think it is about how much conscious you are about the lessons of history. As someone who is new to the field and who has little bit of understanding of history, I am ready to make sacrifices when time comes. Somehow it is idealism that motivates me and I will be able to learn lessons from the past.
But you are going to be part of the same political set up. You say Kashmiri lives matter but regional parties NC and PDP are accused of killing Kashmiris and they brazen it out when in power.
I believe that I am part of that same political set up but I am not part of any political party. I think I have made it clear I am not joining any party. I will fight election only if I find resonance of my ideas among people.
Suppose you win election tomorrow and you will be minister and killings happen, will you resign?
Yes, I will. But we must understand who has primary responsibility of changing the political atmosphere in the state. It is the central government. The state government is an interim government actually. They are running the temporary administration, a day-to-day administration. As long as they see the reality and say look we are here for running day-to-day administration and we are not here for a political solution. They have put up a façade that we are powerful and then say we are not powerful, only one of the two things are true.
How do you see reaction to your resignation?
I had thought I will resign and join politics. Hundreds of people join one party or another. I thought I will also quit my job and join politics and try to do something as public servant. It is absolutely shocking to see hundreds and thousands of people have shown a kind of outrage over my joining politics. I am also surprised that people here and more so the youngsters who connect with me feel totally alienated and they feel existing politics has failed to provide solutions. And this is the first lesson to me. I am trying to talk to this constituency. There is lot of suspicion but there is at the same time a cry for a change.
What is this politics of disruption you are talking about?
Disruption is like putting in new ideas. It is like doing the same thing differently. My idea to “disrupt” means to challenge the existing ideas. People are telling me it is hard to win elections without money. It may be true. But some day we will win elections without spending money. This is disruption.
There is perception that you have joined politics for conflict resolution?
I don’t know. I cannot be and I don’t want to hijack someone else’s agenda. So, as such my politics is for governance.