This is the time when things should get clearer than before
It is not every day that Jammu and Kashmir finds itself in as much positive spotlight as is the case today. The narrative is focused on having a viable government. After a series of hiccups, both PDP and BJP have admitted that they were engaged in talks.
This engagement would lead to the government formation. The two are much more closer in cementing the next governing alliance than they were admitting it in public.
The point here is not when the two would formally announce their political marriage, nor it is that on which issues have they agreed or disagreed. But, what they have agreed is sufficient to stir hope among the people that they would be governing for the welfare of the people. Time alone will tell, whether the two would stick to their word of providing good governance or not. This question is there because quite often this thesis gets lost in issues and counter-issues, which have the rhetorical value only..
Certain realities will have to be accepted and broadcast to the world – the state recorded the best ever voter turnout of 66 per cent in decades. The world not only knows this and the underlined meaning in it as well. In 2008, when the voters voted for “ sadak, bijli pani” ( roads, electricity and water), the reality was that these issues were a convenient cover to their intense desire to vote for the continuity of democracy.
They never wanted the state to fall back onto the days of 1989, when the scene was dismal with just 2 per cent of voting percentage in the parliamentary polls. Ironically, the period in the 1990s was both of hope and despair. The hope turned into a disappointment when the violence became too much to bear. There were four guns that had come to harass the people, militants’, security forces’, counter –insurgents and that of the private militias. It was because that the all sorts of vote had to vote till 1996.
The 2014 polls were better than all the previous elections held since 1996, in terms of voting percentage, which is the greatest thing in elections. The participation of voters makes elections success. This time, the regret of the parties is that the verdict was badly fractured. The parties started blaming the fractured mandate, as no party of consequence got the right numbers or close to those in the House of 87 that could have enabled them to form the government.
Why accuse the voters of giving this kind of messy verdict? The parties should do an introspection on the kind of campaign they ran during the elections, it was a polarized one on the religious and regional and sub regional lines, to put it mildly. They could not have accepted better results. The results were rooted in the campaign and the themes that tempered that.
Whether this verdict is taken as a challenge or an opportunity, this depends upon the way parties look at the polls and results. But what they cannot do is to dismiss such a beautiful turnout. And, if they do so, then they would be doing disservice to the democracy for which the votes were sought. That would be a bad omen for the democracy and the trust that the voters have reposed in their elected representatives
Here’s a quick summary: the parties know that after having come this far, the only option before them is to come up with a government sooner than later. Then get onto their task of giving the people what they want most, delivery on the promises that take care of the peoples of all the regions, with varying religious affiliations and ethnic identities..
Other things can wait. In politics, no time table can be set. Politics is the art of future, elections are fought for governing for the future not for the day when the polling is held. For some issues, the things cannot be kept on hold for ever. It takes time for fruits to ripe.. The desire to settle decades –old issues overnight may derail the fundamentals of democracy that, in reality, took roots in 2002. The 1996 elections were manipulated. The world is watching. And those who have indulged in cherry picking should know that they are also part of the system unless they have decided to sit outside of it.
There is a space for all the parties and leaders to shoulder their responsibilities. Of course, the greater responsibility lies with the parties that will form the government with a stated objective of delivering on the promises made by them to the people during the elections. The would be government parties would have to do something more than mere govern the state. This is a call for them in reaching out to all sections of society and forget the political bitterness that had spoiled their personal and political relationship. The ruling parties have to display magnanimity and take the opposition criticism in their stride because this is a unique situation in which the two parties, rooted in two different, rather opposite ideologies, are expected to come to power in the next few days.
This kind of alliance is bound to evoke sharp criticism from various quarters, especially the opposition. It appears that the erstwhile ruling National Conference and Congress, who together form 27 seats in the House, would be chastising PDP and BJP for compromising their ideologies for the sake of power. This criticism has already started surfacing in the political spectrum and leading this political battle even before the government has come into being is former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah through his account on Twitter that has more than 789,000 followers. He has already posed a series of questions. As a leader in the opposition now, he has the right to ask these questions and the parties in the yet to be formed the government should be ready with the answers, because the people across the country would also like to know that what made the parties to come together, whether it was glue of power that served as a magnet or there was something else in the brew of power.
Things should become clearer after the Common Minimum Programme is out. A wait for that’s worthwhile.