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Defeat of democracy
Farooq's victory is irrelevant, what is significant is the potent message of complete disenchantment and disillusionment
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The self congratulatory tone of the PCC chief, G.M. Mir who is also the NC-Congress coalition candidate for South Kashmir by-poll, after Dr Farooq Abdullah's victory in the Srinagar parliamentary by-poll is ridiculous, to say the least. Anybody's victory in an election, where polling is as low as 7 percent, does not qualify for celebration. Though legally the victory of the NC-Congress coalition candidate cannot easily be challenged, it raises moral and ethical about the representative character of the winner. Therefore calling it a defeat of 'communal forces', as Mir chose to do, is an attempt to deny the glaring and jarring message of the verdict: that Kashmiris are disillusioned with India's constitutional institutions and the Indian parliament, if not the state assembly and the local bodies. This does not put off the hook the PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, which indeed has contributed in a big way to the phenomenally enhanced levels of alienation and anger of the Kashmiri public. While continuation of an atmosphere of suppression, which this government inherited and further took it to new levels of horror, has a major role to play in the deepening sense of alienation and frustration of the masses, the making of the unholy alliance has also contributed in a big way to the pushing people to the brink. The increasing footprints of Hindutva across the country and the BJP's obsession with cow politics, love-jehad and an acute contempt for Kashmir, which also finds reflections in parts of the state; and in the face of a rabidly racist and bellicose discourse with respect to Kashmir, the inability of the PDP to negotiate for some relief to the public in Kashmir from an existing stifling atmosphere has hastened that march of public alienation. Needless to point out that in the 2014 elections, the PDP sought votes in the name of keeping Hindutva out but after the verdict joined hands with the votaries of the same hate soaked ideology. The disenchantment today is not only with parties and individuals with non-secular agenda; it is with the very democratic process that has failed to deliver in Kashmir. The verdict is not a victory of one ideology over another, it is a clear defeat of democratic institutions and democratic practices, which barring elections are mostly observed in breach in Kashmir. It is difficult to say with certainty whether the abysmally low polling percentage is peculiar to parliamentary polls unlike the elections to assembly and local bodies which, as a norm in Kashmir, witness better polling percentage. In most likelihood, the worsening situation in Kashmir today is an indication that the voting patterns in any prospective assembly and local polls, that public in Kashmir by and large see as necessary for addressing their day to day concerns, are also likely to drastically fall.

Therefore to confuse the clear message of the Kashmiri voters with a more convenient notion is not only misleading, it forbids the much needed introspection of the symptoms and the malady to search for answers. Farooq Abdullah may not quite be on the mark by seeking Governor's rule as a remedy. He is, however, right in suggesting initiation of talks both with Pakistan and with cross-section of people in Kashmir. A change of guard would hardly make much difference to the Kashmir situation. Besides, an elected government has a far greater legitimacy in reaching out to the people, which is the need of the time. Will it see the writing on the wall to be able to competently negotiate with its alliance partner and the Centre in replacing the existing choking atmosphere with one of building trust through opening channels of dialogue? Even more importantly, will the Centre recognize the need to resolve Kashmir for stability, progress and peace in South Asian region or would it continue to jeopardize these vital interests so that it can use the chaotic descent of Kashmir as vote bank tool in rest of the country.

News Updated at : Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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