Prevailing conditions in the Valley indicate that people are in no mood to throng the polling booths as the mainstream politicians have not delivered
Jammu and Kashmir Police have sounded poll bugle even before the politicians could officially announce that they are out to seek votes. The Police have asked the leaders to seek security clearance before holding a rally anywhere in Kashmir, especially in restive south Kashmir. (Greater Kashmir Jan 10, 2019)
As the stage is getting set for parliamentary and assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the mainstream parties have become active and the leaders of these parties are making attempts to reach out to the people so that they can once again tell them that their “Messiahs” have arrived on the scene, nearly after a four year break.
Fall of the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir in June last year and dissolution of the state assembly have brought politicians out of their dens. They are the same people, who did not even visit their constituencies from 2016 onwards citing security reasons. They left their voters in lurch when they (voters) needed them the most. But now they need the voters and they are back.
When assembly elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, situation was not so grim. People had witnessed the worst floods of the century but their spirits were not damp. After 2014 Kashmir witnessed killings, mayhem and turmoil, and today they (Kashmiris) stand on cross roads.
Peoples Democratic Party, which emerged as the single largest party after 2014 assembly polls, stands decimated in 2019. Top leaders of the party have already said goodbye to PDP and a few more are also planning to snap the ties. The PDP is paying a heavy price for sharing power with Bharatiya Janata Party.
After losing her chair PDP president Mehbooba Mufti seems to have realized that her tryst with power has spelled doom for her party. Mehbooba took everyone by surprise recently when she visited the families of militants in south Kashmir. She even threatened Governor’s administration of dire consequences if the harassment of militant families doesn’t stop.
Mehbooba returning to militant families evoked sharp criticism from the National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and her former ally BJP. Omar and BJP accused her of playing politics over the bodies of the militants. Mehbooba on third death anniversary of her late father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed apologized for her “toffee and milk” remark. But it seems that she has not been able to strike a chord with the militants. Hizbul-Mujhaideen commander Riyaz Naikoo in an audio message asked the families of militants not to entertain any mainstream politicians, including Mehbooba Mufti.
Coming months are going to be hectic for the political parties, especially for the PDP as it would have to come up with an “out of box idea” to go back to the people. National Conference is trying to create a notion that it’s on a very strong wicket. A few PDP leaders joining NC has given a chance to grand old party to claim that PDP is all set to become history. It seems that NC has become complacent and its leaders have started believing that anger against the PDP would work in NC’s favour. The NC leaders need to come out in open to test the waters as they too had gone underground after being ousted from power in 2014. It won’t be easy for NC to mobilize its workers and activists due to prevailing fear especially in rural areas.
Both National Conference and PDP had boycotted the urban local bodies and panchayat polls and had even threatened to boycott the assembly and parliamentary polls. After the ULB polls ended both the parties announced that they would contest the elections and hinted that boycotting ULB and Panchayat polls was a mistake.
Kashmiri politicians know it very well that boycott has played a major role since 1996. They seem to have realized that in 2019 “poll boycott” can help them. Prevailing conditions in the Valley indicate that people are in no mood to throng the polling booths as the mainstream politicians have not delivered what they had promised in the past. People of Kashmir are aware of the fact that even the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir cannot cross the line and annoy New Delhi. So the elected Chief Minister and elected ministers have to follow what they are told. Mehbooba tried to challenge Delhi’s writ and lost her job.
(Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir)