Low voter turnout

Kashmir witnessing a very low voter turnout in the ongoingLok Sabha elections should serve as an eye opener for the politicians. Peoplestaying away from the polling booths have raised many questions. The biggestquestion is why have people lost faith in democratic system?  

Common people losing interest in elections should sent alarmbells ringing in the camps of all the parties as their existence is directlylinked to the number of people who vote for them. If the politicians in Kashmirdon’t put their acts together they could end up losing everything. Leader isthe one who enjoys the support of people and if the masses don’t repose theirtrust in the person, who claims to be a leader, he ceases to exist. 

Politicians, whom people in Kashmir have voted for duringall these years, have failed to live upto the expectations of the masses forone or other reason. Everyone wants to know what politicians have done for themat least during the past three decades? How come these leaders, who all alonghave claimed to represent the people, have amassed so much of wealth which isdisproportionate to their sources of income.

According to the media reports voter turnout in as many as90 polling stations in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency was zero. In theAnantnag Lok Sabha constituency no votes were cast at 65 polling booths. InBaramulla Lok Sabha constituency no votes were polled at 17 polling stations.

Politicians cannot blame New Delhi for the low pollingpercentage. It’s their “collective failure” and they should own theresponsibility for it. Had the politicians remained in touch with the commonpeople today situation in Kashmir would have been different. Prior to 2019elections, people in large number used to come out to vote and choose theirrepresentatives. They used to defy boycott calls and militant threats toexercise their franchise.  But this timearound they stayed away from polling booths despite separatists failing toenforce the boycott call due to the stern measures taken by the government. Norwere the militants allowed to threaten the people or disrupt the pollinganywhere.  Despite government creatingconducive atmosphere politicians couldn’t do much to pull people out of theirhomes on the polling days.    

The very low voter turnout in Kashmir has brought MehboobaMufti (PDP), Omar Abdullah (NC) and others at loggerheads. Omar Abdullah andothers are holding the PDP and the BJP responsible for the prevailing situationin Kashmir and are claiming that people have lost interest in elections due tomisgovernance. On the other hand, Mehbooba Mufti is reminding Dr Farooq andOmar Abdullah that Kashmir witnessed low voter turnout in the 1996 Lok Sabhaand Assembly elections and at the same time she is alleging that the low voterturnout in Anantnag constituency is a “conspiracy against her.” The newentrants are tearing into Farooq Abdullah and holding the Abdullahs and Muftissquarely responsible for the prevailing volatile situation in the Valley.

It seems that the leaders are trying to hide behind excusesby blaming each other. Someone needs to ask them is the blame game which theyare indulging in a solution?

These leaders have to cut across the party lines and tellthe people in Kashmir that boycotting elections is no solution and if theycontinue to do so they (people) would be the biggest losers. They have to makethe common masses understand that if they run way from the democratic set up itwould add to their miseries.

Despite Kashmir witnessing low voter turnout in theparliamentary polls, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah wantsElection Commission of India to hold Assembly elections without any furtherdelay. It looks like that Omar believes that people staying away from electionswould help his party’s cause and National Conference would win enough seats toform the government in the state. He seems least bothered about the low pollingpercentage. His only aim seems to grab the power. Kashmiri leaders need tochange their mindset. They should think why people don’t trust them anymore. Ifthey don’t sit back and introspect elections in Kashmir would just turnout tobe a mere formality and it would vindicate the stand of the separatists.Kashmiri leaders should not allow this. They cannot just run away every time and blame separatists and militantsfor their failures. 

(The writer is a Former Journalist & Member of JK YouthAlliance)

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