Local Polls in J&K

Kashmir continues to be in the headlines. There is at present an ebbtide in the support for the draconian measures imposed by the central government. This is clearly visible to any discerning observer. Amidst the spate of official propaganda and counter-propaganda about the situation in the Kashmir valley, one important event has, however, been almost lost sight of, or at least largely left out of discussion. That is the election to the local bodies, i.e. the block level councils. Only the panchs and sarpanchs, i.e. the village headmen, were entitled to exercise their franchise in this election. The Congress, the National Conference and the PDP boycotted the elections, and hence the contest was limited to that between the BJP and independent candidates. The BJP-led central government has been trying to paint the election as a manifestation of peace prevailing in J&K. But the tragedy is that they have been able to obtain only 81 seats, while independents have bagged 217. Even in Hindu Jammu and Buddhist Ladakh, the BJP's performance is not at all encouraging. Thus the 'peace' they have brought to the province has visibly gone against them. What does it signify? It signifies that the BJP, despite governmental power and huge financial resources, is unable to win the confidence of the people. A poll process with only panchs and sarpanchs as voters may not present a truly representative picture of the mood of the people, but some glimpses are provided by it. The BJP has contested the election and been taught a lesson. The voters were determined to teach this lesson and they have done it when they have received an opportunity. Once the repressive measures used by the central government are withdrawn, as they must be at some future date, it is quite possible that the BJP will receive another thrashing through a parliamentary or extra parliamentary process. Invoking the names of Vallabhbhai Patel or Shyamaprasad Mukherjee will be of little use then. Else the valley will have to be turned into a large prison.

The latest news from Kashmir is the cruel abduction and murder of five workers, all Muslims, from Murshi-dabad, West Bengal at a village of Kulgaon district in South Kashmir. The incident is heart-rending and severely condemnatory, it highlights the failure of the administration to provide security to ordinary people and gives the lie to the myth of 'normalcy'. ooo


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Vol. 52, No. 22,Dec 1 - 7, 2019