No LA polls

Election Commission of India has disappointed the mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir by not announcing the assembly polls. These parties have not given up hope yet and are making attempts to drive home a point that there is no harm in holding LA polls along with the parliamentary elections.

Vice-president of National Conference and the former chief minister Omar Abdullah is spearheading the campaign to tell New Delhi that people of Jammu and Kashmir should be allowed to exercise their democratic right.

National Conference is aware about the fact that at this point of time party has got an upper hand and if the assembly polls are held along with the Lok Sabha elections it would help party regain the ground it had lost in 2014. National Conference seems focused on regaining power. Peoples Democratic Party on the other hand seems happy about polls being delayed as it has provided the party with a chance to regroup and reach out to the people.

National Conference and PDP boycotted the urban local bodies and panchayat polls which were held last year. Governor Satya Pal Malik had tried his best to convince the leaders of both the parties to come forward and take part in these elections. However, his (Governor’s) magic didn’t work.

Soon after the ULB and panchayat polls ended both the parties (NC and PDP) realized that they have lost control over the local bodies and staying away from these elections was not a wise decision. NC and PDP staying away provided a chance to Congress, BJP and Peoples Conference to project new faces as the future leaders of Kashmir.

After these polls were held NC, PDP and Congress tried coming together and form a government in Jammu and Kashmir but their attempt was thwarted as Governor Malik dissolved the assembly. He didn’t entertain the claims of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and the Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone to form the dispensation in the state.

After the assembly was dissolved, NC declared that it would contest the polls on its own and it has got nothing to do with the PDP. Since the day Assembly has been dissolved National Conference has been making preparations for the polls. The party is hoping that it would emerge as the single largest party in the state but New Delhi seems least interested in allowing NC to make a comeback. It seems that Government of India wants to maintain the status-quo in Jammu and Kashmir at least till the Lok Sabha elections are held.

National Conference is aware of the fact that if BJP returns to power at the Centre then it would be difficult for the party to come into power in Jammu and Kashmir. Assembly elections being deferred in J&K seem to be a part of a bigger plan to have new leaders and faces at place in Kashmir. New Delhi wants to change the narrative and political discourse to make all the Kashmiri leaders fall in line. Since the day BJP has pulled out from the PDP led government in J&K, New Delhi has been making every possible attempt to have alternatives at place. Omar Abdullah has realized that if BJP returns to power, political dimensions in J&K would change drastically and he won’t be the only leader, and there is every possibility about many leaders appearing on the political arena of the state.

Omar is making last ditch attempts to somehow make New Delhi agree to his demand. Before the Lok Sabha polls were announced, Omar had said that holding assembly elections in J&K on time is the “biggest test” for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is clear that PM Modi ignored Omar’s advice and allowed ECI to take a final call.

Many people believe that New Delhi is punishing Kashmiri politicians for staying away from ULB and panchayat polls as the participation of both NC and PDP would have made the entire exercise more credible. 

New Delhi has invested a lot on PDP and NC especially during the past thirty years. Ignoring both these parties at this point of time seems to be signal to NC and PDP that they cannot dictate terms and they would have to follow what they are told. And if they continue to defy the “diktats” both these parties could be turned irrelevant and new people would be given a chance.  Last nine months have made it amply clear that power centre lies in New Delhi and Kashmiri politicians cannot cross the line which the people sitting in the national capital have drawn. 

(Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir)