Changing Political scenarios and Kashmir Issue!
Electioneering has always been a source of fascination and excitement for the people of India, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir are no exception to it. It is probably one of the biggest political Melas of the world where people are seen dancing at the tunes of their favourite leaders. Development, education, health care has always been a dominant factor of political manifestos of different parties in the country which is not surprising at all. But, of late, resolving Kashmir issue has become the most important slogan of political parties during their election campaigning process. In 2014, the abrogation of articles 370 and 35 A were the soul of the political manifestos of BJP and its allies. And it worked tremendously for the party.
In 2018, when Indian National Congress made its presence in the assembly elections in the BJP bastion of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, the trend was emerging for a change. It had sounded alarm bells for BJP and its close allies. But, the Pulwama attack proved a blessing in disguise for BJP, and it succeeded in evoking the collective sentiment of Indian electorate. And Kashmir issue is again the predominant factor of their election campaigning. Will it work this time for them or not, we have to wait and see.
Electioneering in our state is no less fascinating and interesting. Though the three decade old turmoil has put brakes on the pedals of this wagon in the valley to a large extent but people are still interested in this process and have shown a lot of passion and vigour when seen in the light of recent campaigning for LS polls. It remains to be seen how the urban population reacts to the elections which are just around the corner.
Those who attribute electioneering in Jammu and Kashmir to any kind of referendum are mistaken and do not understand that the people of this violence hit state vote for their basic amenities and development. Unemployment, basic amenities like water, electricity, good road-connectivity, health care and education have been the decades old political slogan of our regional political parties. But, now, like India's national level political parties, the regional political forces have included Kashmir issue in their manifestos which may be a good omen.
No doubt, slogans like, ‘Your dignity, my dignity- Three seventy, three seventy’ (slogan referring to safeguarding article 370 of Indian constitution) has been very popular during election campaigning in Kashmir this time, but how such mainstream political parties aim to achieve so remains to be seen.
With the successful culmination of first phase of Lok-Sabha polls, the campaign is in full swing for Srinagar Parliamentary constituency which will go to polls in the second phase on the 18th of this month. The campaigning is not carried out at desired pace and magnitude, for obvious reasons. I won't debate about the impact of the turnout in the North Kashmir parliamentary polls, but campaigning in central or South Kashmir is again going to echo Kashmir issue in a big way
Traditionally, our political leaders leave no stones unturned to blame their rival parties for the political mess and chaos in the state, particularly in the valley, which, to me, is an orthodox stance. Accusations and counter-accusations have been a political rhetoric and politicians hardly talk about the growing unemployment and poor developmental scenario in the state which is quite surprising.
This election, it seems, the trend has changed to a large extent. The paradigm shift in the political manifestos of our regional powers is quite evident. For me, it is somewhat encouraging because every political party has been wooing voters in the name of Article 370, Article 35 A, special position of Jammu and Kashmir in Indian domain, disputed position of Kashmir issue and some constitutional privileges granted to the state. I think every political party has realized the fact that the Kashmir issue at the core of the polity here, and it needs a political as well as permanent resolution so that the miseries and pains of commoners are ended forever.
What has made Political parties to change their political manifestos is indeed the growing prominence of Kashmir issue and the political heavyweights are seen luring voters in the name of special political identity of the state. Time has come when the political leadership should ask India to shun the stubborn stance and proceed in the right direction.
But will it be rhetoric only or are political leaders really sincere this time? Only time will tell.
The writer is a Teacher, Columnist, Poet Orator and a Social activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org