An election without a mandate, but with a message!
Farooq Abdullah is here to represent the people of Srinagar Parliamentary constituency. The constituency with little less than thirteen lakh registered voters will be represented by a politician who managed to earn the approval of only forty-eight and half thousands of voters. Many people in Kashmir would call it a sham election and several others will invoke the element of coercion, rigging and what not. And yes a few having their own political interests at stake and would interpret it as the accomplishment of the democratic process. Obviously, in a conflicting state of affairs where the political situation is awfully fluid, every stakeholder is compelled to derive a conclusion of his liking. However, at the end of present balloting where eight young people were bulleted to death and hundreds injured the elections conveyed a clear verdict of extreme anger and a choice beyond votes.Under existing rules with a support of not more than 3.8 percent of total electorates Farooq Abdullah has absolute authority to represent his parliamentary constituency, but in a real sense, he has no right to talk on behalf of more than a million people in the Parliament. As a true people’s representative he can easily set an example and deny entering into parliament with such a meagre mandate, but the politician that too an opportunistic politician within him is more happy to be answerable (if ever) to only a handful of people. The outcome of this election has devoured the whole concept of mainstream politics in Kashmir as it stands demolished beyond recognition. More interestingly the demolition has come through the peaceful process of boycotting elections. In my opinion, the process of boycott would have been more legitimate if all voters who opted for a boycott would have come out en-masse and pressed the NOTA (none of the above) button. Anyway, people are the best judges and their decision is paramount. Like isolation of mainstream politicians, the separatists have very little to celebrate, because the virtual boycott of elections has thrown a new challenge to Hurriyat to come out of hibernation and devise an effective strategy to negotiate and settle the long pending issue of aspirations of people of Kashmir exclusively through peaceful means.
Interestingly, most of the politicians, political observers and strategists are confused with present scenario of the electoral boycott in Kashmir. During the last three decades even after huge people’s unrest and agitations, many people would prefer voting for a resolution of their issues regarding governance. However, this time round political observers were expecting a decline in voting pattern, but not to extent of such derisory. The question is what compelled people to opt for outright rejection of poll process? Kashmir issue is as old as the independence of the sub-continent from the suppressive rule of British and almost three generations have experienced the fallout of turmoil and unrest in Kashmir with a hope that issue will be addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. In between these seven decades of hope and promises a lot of experimentation was done with festering sore of Kashmir and many politicians of all sorts made a good lot of ‘hay’ (read fortunes) while the Kashmir political pot was ‘shining’ (read burning). But now like rest of the India Kashmir population is dominated by young people and they have their own way of thinking and making a way forward. The role of young Kashmiris at all levels is quite visible since 2010 unrest. And at present, they are in command. Much water has flown down the lifeline of Kashmir—the Jhelum since 1947 and so have changed the expectations of Kashmiri people. The traditional politicians of all shades should bear in mind that baton of Kashmiri aspirations have shifted into the hands of the third generation of young, resilient and ambitious people who have their own way of thinking and make things done. All stakeholders of Kashmir politics should read the bold and deeper engraving on the wall embellished with the blood of young people conveying a message of a paradigm shift in the resolution of Kashmir conflict—obviously through peaceful means.
No nation or entity should read a defeat out of this unprecedented poll boycott and no one should rejoice over such exceptional decision, instead, everyone, irrespective of political ideology and affiliation should read a huge peaceful message conveyed by a larger chunk of Kashmir people to the whole world that Kashmiris have suffered a lot over seven decades of discontent and they have now very little left to themselves to bear anymore.