While Jammu and Kashmir is going to Parliamentary polls, Hurriyat Conference has announced a poll boycott asking people to desist from voting in the upcoming elections for Srinagar and Antanang parliamentary polls, which are scheduled on April 9 and 12. The polls have come at a time, when the state is struggling to recover from the impact of unrest in 2016 in which over 100 people were killed and thousands of others were injured. Government forces rained pellets on the people that left people including teenagers, who had stood only as onlookers, blinded and the families are in the throes of social crises. Staring everyday the pellet-blinded youth is a dismal scenario and the elections are fraught to further pit the people against the government. There is a strong sentiment of separatism that can’t be overlooked and the mainstream political parties are even trying to come to grips with the new challenge that the elections have thrown up. Both the NC and Congress are candid to maintain the security scenario in Kashmir, particularly in South Kashmir that simmered with protests was not conducive for the polls, and the elections have been thrusted on people. A clear reality is that despite the misgivings, the parties including the BJP want to have the stakes in the elections. The right-wing party, which always wears saffron on its sleeves, would try to go for rabble-rousing electoral politics in Kashmir, and throw up it as another milestone in its performance. A mere contest for the BJP only raises the stakes for it and again draws furiously into focus the separatist versus mainstream electoral politics that has always remained as a corner stone in any of the elections in Kashmir. Opposition NC and Congress have taken on the government, and even before the electoral process is to take off with parties plunging into campaigning, the two parties have been wary that the turnout in the polls could be low which would come at the advantage of the ruling PDP – which is contesting from both Srinagar and Anantnag seats. Despite the reservations, a clear campaign by the separatists to run a boycott needs not to be crushed. The use of force would only boomerang and stone-walling the separatist dissent would further erode the credibility of the PDP-BJP coalition government and provide an impetus and prove a let-out for the simmering rage against the mainstream politicians.
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