All the phases of Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir are over and now everyone is waiting for the results. Kashmir recording low polling percentage has thrown the field open. It’s not easy to predict a winner but trends indicate that the anti-incumbency factor may have helped the National Conference in all the three parliamentary constituencies in Kashmir.
People, who observed the polling trends in central, south and north Kashmir, were of the opinion that people, who came out to vote in these areas were unhappy with the Peoples Democratic Party, which had won all the three Lok Sabha seats in 2014 polls in the Valley. After winning the Parliamentary elections, PDP won 28 seats in the Assembly elections held in the same year, and went on to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir along with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Soon after the PDP leaders came into power they shifted their bases from their native villages to high security zones in Srinagar and Jammu cities. They lost total contact with the people, who had voted for them. The PDP leaders ignoring their grass root workers and the electorate, who had braved militant threats and ignored the boycott call given by the separatists, were left in lurch by their elected representatives.
The PDP led government couldn’t much even on the development front in the Valley. On the other hand BJP leaders and ministers ensured that development works in Jammu region are expedited and the people who had voted for them are entertained. Many people believe that this factor could have gone in BJP’s favour in Jammu region.
The PDP leaders need to sit back and introspect why the people have rejected them and have reposed their faith on the “Grand Old Party” of Kashmir—National Conference—which many had written off after the 2014 election results were declared. People of Kashmir had high hopes on the PDP as it had emerged as a strong alternative for the National Conference but the party (PDP) after reaching its zenith failed to deliver. The infighting among the PDP leaders is no secret and the party falling apart after losing the power is an ample proof of the fact that people who had come together to challenge the National Conference had one common aim i.e. to “grab power.”
It’s unfortunate that after coming into the power these leaders completely forgot that it’s the people who had given the mandate to them and had made them reach the power corridors. It looks like that now the same people, whom PDP leaders ignored, have shown them their right place. It seems that PDP is all set to get a big shock in south Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary constituency from where the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is contesting. The polling percentage in south Kashmir was dismal as it stood at just 8.70%. The areas which were considered to be the strongholds of the PDP witnessed either no polling or very less voting. The PDP chief appears to be staring at her first defeat in her political career.
Many people believe that credit for the resurgence of National Conference goes to the PDP and its leaders, who made tall promises, but failed to deliver on the ground. The new faces that have appeared on the political arena of the state would take sometime to establish themselves and it appears that it’s NC which would return to power in state after the Assembly polls are held.
Speculations are rife that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir may get delayed till November. It means that PDP and the new parties have still got sometime left. If they are able to regroup themselves and make people believe that they are better than National Conference there is some possibility about voters changing their minds.
The recent Lok Sabha polls have made one thing amply clear that political parties in Kashmir have not been able to strike a chord with the common people. Had they been able to do so, the overall voting percentage in Kashmir could have been on the higher side. Only a miniscule population coming out to vote has sent alarm bells ringing in the camps of all the parties as their existence is directly linked to the participation of people in the elections.
(The writer is a former Journalist and member of JK Youth Alliance)