Are Elections Round the Corner for Jammu and Kashmir?
Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have suddenly gone into election mode, almost as if the polls are round the corner. Every day, some party or the other holds a rally or a public meeting across the region. Though there is no clear indication from the Election Commission of India, the political leaders have been reportedly told to be ready to fight the elections. Some of the political leaders, including the re-elected president of the National Conference party and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari, seem upbeat about the elections to be held in March or April next year. Bukhari has reportedly asked his party cadres to gear up for elections. Abdullah, on the other hand, remains available to his party members at his Gupkar residence in Srinagar. It is quite unusual for him to be here during winter. Other political leaders too are busy mobilizing their workers and party cadres.
Meanwhile, the election department of the Union Territory of Kashmir is also busy finalising the electoral rolls though the process is yet to go through a couple of revisions. However, the administration has many challenges ahead in Jammu and Kashmir. The government is busy in what it calls cleaning the system. A full-fledged drive has been started to identify subversive and anti-national elements within the system. A hunt is on for those who had been inimical to the electoral process and had been allegedly instigating the people against the state and its institutions. The administration seems keen to ensure the widespread participation of the people in the electoral process in the Kashmir Valley. The administration appears determined to remove any fear among the general public by tightening its noose around those who might disrupt the poll process.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha intends to provide a peaceful and congenial atmosphere for holding elections to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. He is reportedly resolute in uprooting disruptive elements and those who want to boycott the elections. However, given the fact that the rot in the political system goes back decades, it is no easy task to hold free and fair as well as peaceful polls.