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Jammu Kashmir Polls: Democracy Prevails over 'Demoncracy'

Jammu Kashmir DDC polls on the positive side has restored people's faith in the electoral process

Friday January 8, 2021 8:41 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba

Kashmir Polls

The BJP government in Delhi conducted the District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir about a year after its occupational rule. The polls were conducted to make a point that people of J&K endorsed BJP’s decision of August 5, 2019. The results speak how miserably the BJP has failed. Inherent in the BJP’s victory beguile is the slur that Democracy has won over ‘Demoncracy’ in J&K

There are few things that need to be analyzed with regard to the DDC poll results. The BJP’s strategy was that the local polls will be boycotted by the people of Kashmir and in such a case its victory in Jammu will hold the credibility of the polls that would in turn justify its August 5, 2019 decision. The participation of the mainstream party in the polls upset the BJP’s calculation.

The results of the DDC polls did not endorse the BJP’s move to revoke the special provisions to J&K and convert it into a Union Territory. In fact, the poll verdict made a loud statement for the restoration of the autonomy which was forcibly taken by the BJP government in Delhi.

The results also made a statement that the people of the Valley desperately need freedom, peace, dignity and democracy.

The poll results highlighted total alienation of the people of the Valley towards the Delhi rule. The restoration of faith and trust deficit that BJP has created will linger on long after it ceases to be the rulers of ‘Hindustan'.

The BJP’s claim that it has emerged as a single largest party at the DDC has to be accepted with a pinch of salt. Out of 75 seats that the BJP won, 72 have come from the Jammu region, that too from six Hindu dominated districts — Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Samba, Doda and Reasi. In these districts, there is sharp religious polarization between Hindu Jammu and Muslim Kashmir. These districts are traditional Hindutva vote banks and there is nothing to celebrate about the BJP’s win.

The fact is the Congress won 26 seats in the Jammu region and the ‘Alliance’ won in both mixed areas, as well as in Muslim-dominated areas, makes BJP claims of being the single largest party hollow.

The puzzle is how did the BJP win three seats in the Srinagar region? How it got 3 per cent votes in the Valley? Independent sources say, the 3 seats are won by coercive methods. People were asked at gunpoint to vote for BJP. Many votes were cast in absentia by bogus voting. Those managing the booths voted for the BJP. Huge security personnel took part in the state orchestrated voting process.

There were reports that the alliance parties were not allowed to campaign freely, their movements were restricted. The central government made it difficult for the top leaders to reach out and meet the masses. The BJP candidates or its allies were given full security to campaign. Many high profile Muslim BJP leaders like Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi went for campaigning in the Valley. Even with all these hullabaloo the BJP could win only 3 seats. Given the administrative paraphernalia and security set up that the BJP has put up in the Kashmir valley, this very poor show by the mighty state power. Certainly, the result does not suggest that the BJP has become a mainstream party in the Valley.

The BJP backed Apni Party hardly had any significant impact in the DDC polls. There were reports that the BJP used the state machinery to benefit the Apni Party. It has also pumped in huge cash and resources to help it win the polls. But, in spite of all the backing given by the BJP, the Apani Party could win only 12 seats. The BJP thus miserably failed in creating an alternative leadership in the Kashmir Valley.

The BJP’s moves to change the course of Kashmir Valley’s politics by propping up Apni Party was totally debunked by the people. In BJP’s circles, Altaf Bukhari, the leader of the Apani Party is touted to be the new Shiekh Abdullah who will hold the BJP’s flag high in the Kashmir Valley. The DDC results point that Altaf Bukari has become the Altaf Hussain of Pakistan – a crook to the core.

The DDC poll also did not endorse the BJP's claim that its move of August 5, 2019 has been able to contain the scourge of terrorism in J&K. The statistics of militancy related activities speak the fact that armed militancy has increased since the state became a Union Territory.

The BJP's claim to end dynasty rule has also not got vindicated at the DDC polls. The fact is BJP’s campaign to remove dynasties in J&K did not reflect on the poll results. People have restored faith in the old dynasties of Abdullahs, Muftis and Sajjad Lone.

In sum, the DDC poll results clearly reflect a mass resentment and anger at the state of affairs in the Union Territory of J&K. People have clearly voted against the ‘demoncracy’ that is thrust on them.

The poll verdict points that the people unanimously opposed the central government’s move to abrogate Article 370, the dissolution of the state assembly, the arrest of political leaders, the lockdown, the clampdown, and the totalitarian and authoritarian methods adopted by the BJP. The DDC poll results reflect a total failure of the BJP government's policies towards J&K.

The DDC polls on the positive side has restored people's faith in the electoral process. The results vindicate that people want restoration of autonomy, state assembly and true federalism in J&K.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com.]


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