Hearing on Article 370 related petitions

Will the political parties try to take advantage of moving to supreme court?
Hearing on Article 370 related petitions

Whatever be the verdict of the supreme court on the petitions challenging the abrogation of article 370, will the various political parties in Kashmir try later to take political advantage for approaching the top court of the country? Will they attempt to score points over each other that how "sincerely"  they pursued the matter legally and tried "their level best"? Going by the electoral politics assessment, the answers to the questions can be in the affirmative. The attempts to score the political points is likely to gain momentum and reach to its peak during the election time.

Till now the parties were closely watching the proceedings in the supreme court. After the 16 day long marathon hearing, the top court on September 5 reserved its judgement, which will be delivered soon. Now the wait by the political parties for the verdict has begun.

During the hearing, senior leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Sajad Gani Lone did visit the supreme court to watch the arguments of the senior lawyers. They and some other leaders in Jammu and Kashmir hailed "the senior lawyers for presenting the case with efficiency."

The political parties would try to make going to supreme court and fighting the case there as an important tool in elections - be it Lok Sabha polls or the assembly elections.

Even such voices can be heard in the coming Panchayat and urban local bodies (ULBs) polls also. To what extent will the political parties be able to cash on it and whether or not the voters will get impressed with such moves would be known at the election time.

Going by the present developments, it seems that National Conference (NC) will try to highlight its efforts in this direction more during the polls. During his media interaction in New Delhi recently, Omar said that he is happy that even those who had said that Article 370 is gone for ever have now started showing interest in supreme court proceedings and expressing optimism.

"When we had filed petitions, challenging the abrogation of article 370 in supreme court, we were criticised for using legal path and not using other means. This was the only practical and possible path. And time has proved us right," he said. The former chief minister gave reasons for not approaching the central government directly or indirectly for revoking the abrogation.

The issues of assembly elections and restoration of statehood also figured in the supreme court hearing. The centre reiterated its stance that it is ready for assembly elections any time now but the call for the conduct of the polls has to be taken by UT (J&K) election commission and election commission of India together. The centre also told the top court that the union territory status to Jammu and Kashmir is temporary but it cannot give an exact timeline for restoration of the statehood.

Even as the political parties in Kashmir are demanding assembly polls and statehood but they said that they had gone to supreme court only for revocation of article 370.

In view of the centre's statement in supreme court, the status of polls is almost similar as it was earlier. It is not yet known when exactly the assembly polls are going to be held.

Like other parts of the country the parliament polls are going to be conducted in April-May next year. Since a special session of the parliament has been convened from September 18 to 22 , the curiosity is increasing at the national level regarding the next political moves of the union government.

Will the Lok Sabha polls be held on scheduled time or preponed, and what about the coming assembly polls in some states? What moves government is intending to make during the special session? These are the questions doing rounds in the political circles. The picture will become clear once the special session of parliament comes to an end.

Like other opposition parties in the country, the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir will be also eager to know the answers so that they can according update their poll strategy.

National Conference and PDP have also become part of the opposition launched INDIA Alliance. While the alliance recently formed various committees but the tricky issue of seat sharing arrangement among the parties will be discussed and finalised later. For any political party becoming part of any pre-poll alliance and then going for seat sharing with other parties is not an  easy job. M

ore particularly so when large number of parties are joining hands together to form a new alliance for the first time. The principle of give and take during seat sharing arrangements looks difficult when major political parties want lion's share. If I.N.D.I.A. Alliance survives, the seat sharing will be biggest acid test for it later. The serious differences on such an arrangement can even break the alliance.

Take for example the two parties, NC and PDP from Jammu and Kashmir. J&K has only five Lok Sabha seats. Kashmir has three seats and Jammu two. In last Lok Sabha polls in 2019, NC won all the three seats in Kashmir and the two seats in Jammu went to BJP.

Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency, which was part of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state at that time, was bagged by BJP. PDP may like to contest the Lok Sabha polls from all the three seats in Kashmir this time. But will NC surrender any of the seat for PDP? It seems practically impossible.

Either PDP will not have to contest from any seat and support NC or contest from all seats. If this can be the scenario here, the scenario in other states and union territories is also understandable.

So seat sharing is not an easy task for INDIA Alliance. On the other hand the BJP led NDA has contested polls several times and this time also the parties in it are likely to agree on the seat sharing arrangements.

BJP did not need the support of its alliance partners in 2014 and 2019 polls as it got such a massive mandate. But despite that the party kept them in the coalition government. In next Lok Sabha polls BJP is aiming at a more massive mandate.

Author is senior editor, Greater Kashmir

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