Two mainstream parties National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party saying no to municipal and panchayat polls has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the educated youth of Kashmir.
Many youth, who are well qualified than the people who have been ruling J&K for long, have come forward to participate in the polls and are emerging as the new leaders in the political arena of the Valley. These youth have rejected NC and PDP by filing nomination papers. They have made it clear that they want to be a part of change and they don't believe in following anyone blindly.
Former spokesman of National Conference Junaid Azim Mattu saying goodbye to NC and deciding to contest the forthcoming municipal polls is a big setback for the oldest Kashmir based party. Mattu walking out has proved that all is not well within the NC. The dissent is brewing and in coming days one can predict that many young leaders of both NC and PDP may decide to say goodbye to the parties that believe in dynasty politics and are of the opinion that only two families can rule Jammu and Kashmir.
Youth showing inclination towards joining politics seems to have unnerved PDP and NC as leaders of both the parties are now talking about joining hands and entering into an alliance to form the government. The known bête-noire are ready to abandon their ideologies for a common cause i.e. power, as they don't want their "birthright" to be snatched. It's an irony that both NC and PDP leaders believe that they are "born to rule" and other denizens of the strife torn Kashmir are just their subjects.
The participation of youth in municipal and panchayat polls is an indication that people of Kashmir are out to challenge the hegemony of both these parties. No doubt their number is less at this point of time but they have created ripples within the NC and PDP camps. Both the parties seem to be telling each other that they are on the same page vis-à-vis the issue of power and it's high time that they join their hands and come together.
History stands testimony to the fact that both NC and PDP during their tenures used to "run the government from their kitchens" all important decisions were taken by the "kitchen cabinet" which comprised of family members only. Now the times have changed and they stand exposed before the people, who seem to have decided that politics in Jammu and Kashmir is not anyone's fiefdom and mere tag of being a Mufti or an Abdullah is no qualification for being a ruler.
According to media reports many grass root workers of both the parties are unhappy with the decision of the NC and PDP leadership to boycott the panchayat and municipal polls. They are questioning the decision of the party leadership and are casting aspersions over the intentions of their leaders.
By staying away from the polls both the parties have proved it to their workers and activists that they are not interested in empowering them. Their only aim is to rule J&K. To an extent the decision of the PDP and NC to boycott these polls has backfired as there are many gloomy faces in their camps and they are exploring other options.
New faces which would emerge after the panchayat and municipal polls end could prove to be the game changers in Kashmir and their rise could usher a new era in the Valley. Media reports suggest that both NC and PDP are depending on proxy candidates to help them control the corporations and panchayats but the youth who are contesting these polls seem to have different plans. They are out to tell these parties that they cannot keep on just selling dreams to people and their rhetoric has no takers.
The battle lines are drawn, if these parties want to prove their representative character they would have to join the poll fray and seek votes rather than depending upon the boycott. It's an open secret that both these parties during all these years have depended upon boycott to win the elections and rule the state. But days of boycott politics are over as new stars are appearing in the horizon. These stars (youth) have got the strength and urge to change the future of their people.
(The Writer is Member of JK Youth Alliance)