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Kashmir: its people, elections and voting trends

“While politicians also maintain that elections here are for local governance and for Bijli, Pani and Sadak to befool the masses. Actually by participating in this whole process we prove that we are an integral part of India,”

says a student of Urdu from Kulgam.

To most of the youth change at the centre really does not matter. They feel whosoever comes, Kashmiri’s alienation and suffering will continue.

A youth from north Kashmir on defining elections says,

“To a common Kashmiri, what is an election here now? Another face of corrupt and Delhi sponsored brigade, new power opportunity, yet another visionless governance and youth exploitation. Further another term of moral, social, economic and administrative disorder and rottenness will come into being”.

A university colleague argues,

“Elections here to me simply mean rallies and rushes, inconveniencing the public, impressive speeches, a saga of blames and accusations on each other, show of might and rhetoric, inter-party fights and hostilities, conspiracies against each other, political advantage of each other’s lapses, family and traditional authority politics, appointment of some new faces and disappointment of some prior ones, youth enslavement, artificial dreams, hollow promises, use of youth for sloganeering, defence, public gatherings, public luring, fights, vote loot, use of youths for facilitating ‘Jalsaas’ (political gatherings), etc.”

People also feel that everything is done for the vote bank in this part of the world.

“Elections no doubt are essential for the maintenance of political structure of the state but the Kashmir political and election studies reveal that it is a imposed thing and not the institutional need. Moreover, we witness the party monopoly both at the centre and state level who mobilize their agents to run the campaigning and voting  process and public hardly gets to decide anything which defeats the actual goal of true elections,”

comments  a research scholar from Kashmir University.

Iram Saba, a tutor from Srinagar says,

“I will not vote because I have never voted and my family has also not voted. It is almost a taboo here now. Actually no voting has become a culture here that also benefits the politicians. We follow the election boycott. The question also is to vote for whom?”

Last Word

The so called political giants, heavyweights and self made intellectuals and Parties contesting elections in Kashmir lack the very vision on Kashmir.

While it is true that there is no Modi wave as BJP has hardly been a significant stakeholder in the valley, the fact remains that other Parties are not highly liked too for their manifestos, leadership style, governance, etc, by the masses.

Yes, the people especially rural section of the population show a high participation but only because of their affiliations to politicians based on either knowing the leader personally, neighbourhood issues, concept of Biradari, or to take avenge of the last supported party or candidate or being a worker or simply to get a casual labour job after the leader in the neighbourhood gets elected or become a minister.

Kashmir’s theatre of elections currently plays the drums of autonomy, dual currency, healing touch, AFSPA revocation, Tosamaidan row, Pathribal case closure, poll boycott, hanging of Afzal Guru, article 370 support and abrogation slogans, ‘Kashmir will be our priority slogan by BJP’, BJP in local ads, Omar’s autonomy and Geelani’s boycott, etc.

The law of situation has changed the sphere of influence and the sphere of obligation and paved the way for a different psephology this time.

Though it is an established fact that Kashmir Psephology is not entirely different from that of the rest of India as electoral process still remains topsy-turvy/sensitive in most parts of the  country but at the end of the day one comes to conclude that a lack of developments on the K-issue, lack of peace building, leadership crisis, lack of credible politicians, dearth of young and able politicians, lack of mass friendly ideologies, lack of development and progressive vision, lack of conflict termination, continued violence, HR violation, killings, increasing dissent and undying secessionist tendencies, etc, haunt the Kashmir Psephology.

Amid the high drama of elections in the troubled valley, the common man has been left confused, mentally tortured and ideologically starved. With the powerful elite enjoying every bit of it, it is the suffering masses who continue to live under the shadow of hopelessness.

Ahmad Faraz aptly puts it,

Har koi Apni Hawa Main Mast Firta Hai Faraz

Sheher-e-NaPursaan Main Teri Chashm-i-Tarr Dekhega Kon

About The Author

Adfar Shah is a Delhi Based Sociologist. He is a Guest Columnist at Pointblank7.Views expressed are personal and based on interactions in the field. Mail at adfer.syed@gmail.com

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