Assembly election 2008 invited much interest and attracted many controversies from the day present administrative setup decided to go for it against all odds. Conducting this election in charged atmosphere was a big gamble, and governor N.N.Vohara has proved his ability as gifted trouble shooter with capability of making his strategies functional under hostile circumstances. Earlier debacles at the start of his tenure were proving disastrous and at one point of time post Amarnath mass movement unnerved the whole establishment and Kashmir think tanks from Srinagar down to Delhi panicked. This election is unique in many ways and will be remembered for long in the annals of Kashmir’s political history. Election process was unusually spread over a period of two months time; very long period by standards of conventional electioneering process. Failures on law and order front kicked off a much vigorous sense of caution within administrative setup headed by Mr.Vohara and he plugged every loophole and barricaded all breaches for smooth conduct of elections. To make things much more precise Mr.Vohara resorted to all possible overt and covert means of tight and tough administration to ensure conduct of elections as per his devised strategy.
Kashmir election 2008 will be a big surprise and its climax will not be less shocking for many political bigwigs, stalwarts and their political establishments. Many political heads will roll packing them to oblivions of wilderness and this will be almost in every camp. This election is proving the most unpredictable and uncertain election beyond every ones imagination and it will carry its erratic behaviour to the last moment of its culmination. Stakes are high in this election and results will make some faces to celebrate and rest to go red at a big cost. There will be more of gloom than celebration at the end within the political communities as there will be many more losers than winners. Kashmiries will surprise all! And will dismantle all traditional and conventional political and ideological forts erected by deceit and exploitation. Polling percentage in the first phase surprised everyone and the administration along with their masters in Delhi were feeling on top of the world, elated and jubilant. The results were completely astonishing for the administration, political parties, and Hurriyat leaders. Certain sections within the administration are under this illusion that these miracles are outcome of their efficient administration and precise planning. Some observers think Kashmiries are an unpredictable lot, had gone nuts, and have bartered their legitimate right of emancipation and self determination for roads, potable water, petty jobs, and electricity. But the fact is that Kashmiries have turned wiser and they know the thin line between survival and emancipation. Kashmiri people are aware of the fact how they were taken for a ride for last six decades by using carrot and stick ploy but now they want to have the carrot for survival and face the stick to achieve their legitimate rights. So any mandate conveyed by this election should not be construed as absolute mandate on every political feature of Kashmir, particularly Kashmir issue and future of Kashmiries.
It is apparent that at the conclusion of this election certain sections of political system will resort to usual drumbeating of absolute mandate for sealing fate of Kashmiri people. Think tanks in Delhi will start working overtime to get maximum mileage out of the election results backed by reasonable percentage of voter turnout. Politics in Kashmir had witnessed many ups and downs but the situation now is quite different and unique and all earlier formulas of deception and deviation will make no sense. Political landscape and scenario of Kashmir has gone a sea change, dictations and commands have become irrelevant, and this applies to every section of political establishment here. Few months back Kashmir flared instantly without any political intervention over a piece of land not because of materialistic urge but it was a blunt attack on common Kashmiries pride and survival. For a small piece of land scores of people laid their lives without any command from political leaders as people knew what is right and what their priorities are. Immediately after Amarnath blaze Kashmiries by and large did not heed to any command of election boycott as they knew boycott or no boycott their miseries are not going to move away. This behaviour of Kashmiries ranging between instant mass uprising and reasonable participation in elections is interpreted as inconsistent and unpredicted state of mind and every time late Bakshi Sahib’s much talked imagination of ‘forty lack Kashmiries on both sides of the fence’ is placed on record as unreasonable logic for such behaviour.
New state government will be in place by the end of this year with a bigger responsibility of channelling peoples mandate in right direction and perspective. As this is mandate for managing only affairs of development, social and other day to day issues any lapse on this account will amount to abusing peoples mandate and disservice. Further any amplification and misadventure with quantum of mandate in 2008 assembly election will be an act of deceit and mistrust. Reasonable turnout of electorates in elections should not be interpreted wiping out of sentiment of emancipation and struggle for legitimate right of self determination. Who so ever will be holding the reins of power in the state should bear in mind, Kashmiries have empowered them at the cost of their creditability only to ensure an atmosphere of sustenance for a bigger cause to be established and decided separately. Any meddling into the affairs of people of Kashmir beyond the designated mandate will not only prove counterproductive but will certainly ensure fading away of such elements. Minimum impact of Hurriyat appeal for election boycott should not be translated as outright failure of leadership pursuing agenda of right of self determination for people of Kashmir but it should be read as collective wisdom and tactical shift by politically mature Kashmiries from traditional politicking that present separatist leadership could not otherwise visualize as need of the hour. Hurriyat has an exceptional task ahead, that of introspection, unity and devise a comprehensive strategy to take agenda of struggle for legitimate rights to its logical conclusion. Hurriyat should not feel disheartened instead they should think optimistic and own the peoples policy of struggle for complete emancipation alongside a sincere strategy of honourable survival.
World over in every respectable forum it is an established fact now that Kashmir is an potential flashpoint in the region to trigger bigger conflict of enormous magnitude at any point of time and some misadventure will prove fatal not only for the subcontinent but for the whole world. It becomes imperative not only for the local elected government to restrict to its mandate but also for the Indian and Pakistani authorities to refrain from ego-ism and resolve Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of all sections of people of Jammu and Kashmir at an earliest. Kashmiries have given an exceptional verdict in this election where they have very undoubtedly separated the issues of local governance for sustenance from that of emancipation based on historical facts and promises. Kashmiries tried every arsenal referred in civilized societies and their historical records for their legitimate rights but they were always betrayed and mislead. This time now they have adopted a multi pronged strategy to decide their future as per their choice and ensure their honourable survival separately if it is hampered by any old beaten track of absolute mandate rhetoric, or other deceptive ploy Kashmir will lead to a bigger conflict and volcanic eruption of that divergence will engulfing the whole area.