The coming elections will be unique in many ways…
After much turbulent 2008 Amarnath row that ended after sixty one days violent standoff and subsequent assembly elections a different political coalition took charge of Jammu and Kashmir. Amarnath land issue changed the whole political equation inside mainstream political camp. Indian National Congress after 2008 elections under the influence of its bewildered and battered state leadership changed its heart and switched sides to settle scores with architects of Amarnath row. This bonhomous coalition of Congress and National conference is intact even after years of turbulence and internal strife, but now at its fag end the alliance looks like a marriage of ‘connivance’. Congress that has now firmly established and embedded itself as a permanent feature in political scheme of Jammu and Kashmir is relishing both by having the proverbial cake of power and enjoying it too.
Elections in the state are due in 2014 and the political parties have already started their political realignments to grab maximum out of the fluid political situation, particularly in politically disorganized Kashmir. On one hand mainstream political outfits stand united against the separatist camp’s plans of election boycott but within are unable to compromise on the issue of power sharing. Both Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference the main regional political parties being sworn enemies have provided Congress a catalytic ‘must be’ status in any future political combination in the state.
For the last more than six months the coalition partners are not behaving symbiotically and much of their precious time otherwise meant for governance is wasted in browbeating each other to score political points. Main political opposition sitting on the fence explores and exploits every situation of strife within the coalition to their own political advantage bothering least about their role as watchdog within the democratic system. The fluid political situation in Kashmir has made the political outfits of all shades and allegiance unaccountable and arrogant. This overconfidence on part of politicians has already cast its gloomy shadows both on the political scenario and the overall administrative setup of the state.
Whatever the shape and combination of political alliance after much awaited and hyped 2014 Assembly elections the people of this state will always be at the receiving end as it will be the same political wine in new bottle? This state run on the opium of self-rule and autonomy and exploited in the name of empowerment and emancipation requires radical but sincere and honest political initiatives and changes. And no political party or dispensation seems potential and worth enough to effect far-reaching political changes to the satisfaction of political aspirations of this ill-fated state. Hunger for power and craving for political entrenchment has made politicians callous and bereft of values. Scheming, money-power and coercion are the main tools of politicking and thus very often in local parlance politics is equated with filth when they say, “Siyasat gaie Kasafat”. Politicians in Kashmir are fast losing their credibility and it is only bullying and election time placation trick that keeps the political pot in Kashmir boiling.
2014 elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be unique in many ways. Political equations will change, alliances will realign and strange people will share the political bed. For last many years a new breed of retired bureaucrats and self-interested trade-union leaders have joined the political bandwagon and this time now many of these elements will jump into the forthcoming elections with different political trademarks. Most of these probable bureaucratic politicians have metamorphosed from nepots to cronies and then to exploiters with the blessing of their political masters and thus want to be part of that manipulative system through the umbilical cord of politics. Assembly election 2014 instead of being contested on local issues of corruption free good governance, infrastructure, health and education will be dominated by many irrelevant political issues. This will be the most exploitative election contested in the electoral history of the state where blood of innocent people will be traded in the political bazaar and shrouds of dead will be used as political pennant to exploit and lure people of Kashmir to the mine fields of unfair electoral politics. In this election of collusion principles and values will get dumped in the backyard and the real issues of empowerment, honour and justice pushed on the back-burner.
We know most of the politicians and political parties will outright reject this visualization of Election 2014 but for the last ten years power hungry politicking rubbishes all the tall claims of our political fraternity. As a diehard optimist I wish better sense will prevail and the Election 2014 will be contested in its right perspective, treating it as a contest to earn mandate for local governance only for the welfare of common man and delinking it from core Kashmir issue that can be resolved peacefully with a much wider mandate at an opportune time.