Action soon? Or the same rhetoric?

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Elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly are speculated to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

The next elections would be the first since 2014 and also the first since the revocation of the special status and withdrawal of statehood of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. On many occasions, the political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly those perceived to be close to the BJP government in New Delhi, came under the impression that elections would be held sooner than later.

Ever since 2020, Syed Altaf Bukhari, president, Apni Party, and Sajad Gani Lone, chairman, Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference, had been hoping against hope that elections would be held in Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible. My argument to them would be – forget about elections till 2024.

But they, to be fair to them, were never at fault because they were always told by the central leadership to be ready for elections. For them, it was an assurance; but I would always take it as a political statement meant to keep their spirits high. I even suggested to my friends in both the parties to go for long vacations lest they should be exhausted.

Though there is no clear indication from the Election Commission of India; one would, however, only guess the timing of the election taking into consideration how people at the helm of affairs in Srinagar and New Delhi are giving their feedback to the ECI and the Narendra Modi government.

That said, the year 2024 is not too far. Now the political parties should actually go into the election mode and intensify their public outreach efforts. Political activities, no doubt, infuse freshness in the cadres of any political party and greatly help in changing the atmosphere which, till now, has been dull, at least from a political prospective.

And since there are certain indicators suggesting there would be a massive voter turnout in the elections as and when held, it would be rather interesting to see how the political leaders seeking mandate are able to mobilise public support and what they are going to offer to people without actually becoming dream-sellers.

There are certain voices in the Kashmir politics that really want to be practical and pragmatic, bereft of exploitative politics. Let us see how they garner public support particularly when the National Conference and the PDP are most likely to resort to the old rhetorical brand of politics.

 

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