ELECTIONS IN J&K TO BE OR NOT TO BE

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Elections In J&K

To Be Or Not To Be

 

by Bashir Assad

Cutting across the party affiliations and loyalties, the political class in Jammu and Kashmir is confused. They are clueless whether elections to J&K Assembly will be held soon

Since there is no clear indication about the Assembly elections, the political class is in a fix
whether to start the outreach or keep watching the next move of the BJP government at the Centre. The political class cutting across party lines is confused and also apprehensive about how the events are going to unfold that may signal the commencement of
electoral politics after its suspension since 2018.
Kashmir Central reached out to the political leaders of almost all political parties in order to
assess how the political stalemate has impacted them. Every political leader is clueless about how long the electoral process shall remain elusive.
The illusion is disheartening for the political class. It has both political and material
ramifications for them. Almost all political leaders who spoke with Kashmir Central were
concerned about the daily expenditure incurred on public interaction in their respective
constituencies.
Heavy Expenses
A senior political leader affiliated with Apni Party told this correspondent that on average, his expenditure on fuel for the vehicles on weekly basis is more than Rs 20,000. “If elections are
not held soon, imagine how much I will have to spend on fuel alone. I have do daily shuttling from Srinagar to my constituency in North Kashmir. If elections are deferred any longer, it shall drain my resources,” he said woefully.
A young energetic political leader from Srinagar city drew our attention towards another
interesting observation. The leader said that if the elections are not held soon, the political
leaders shall lose their cadre. “Our cadre will get exhausted because currently, we are not able to meet their expectations. Fatigue will set in. The workers will be disenchanted because we could not do much for them,” the young political leader said.

Against National Interest
A senior National Conference leader and former minister from South Kashmir told Kashmir
Central that suspension of electoral politics will certainly lead to disenchantment of the voters from the process. The NC leader said, “Elections are an event, and people are always interested in events rather than in long drawn processes. Events attract the public, otherwise they lose interest.” He added that deferment of elections for so long shall have a negative impact on the final outcome.
A PDP leader from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district told Kashmir Central that the Centre is
holding back the people from electoral politics by not holding elections in J&K. He added that this shall not be in national interest. “Let me tell you honestly – deferment of elections will only strengthen boycott politics because people don’t like ambiguity,” the PDP leader said.
The Cadre May Lose Steam
There is an opinion that only cadre-based political parties like National Conference can survive the prolonged suspension of elections. Some observers argue that the base of such parties is strong, because the cadre wont lose steam. They shall remain committed to the leadership and the party.
Some political observers say that the general public chooses its course on its own will. They
may be inclined towards one political leader or party today. But they may change their mind tomorrow, particularly when their expectations are fulfilled.
The counter argument is that cadre-based political parties suffer erosion of their support base if elections are deferred for a long period. The conscious political workers can’t remain mute for long. They are conditioned to be entertained at regular time periods. If parties or their leadership cannot offer spicy and exciting events and developments to their cadre, their followers lose interest.
In the ultimate analysis, it looks like the deferment of elections for a long period is neither in the interest of the general public, nor does it serve the political class. Political leaders hold that a popular government is very important to keep the people engaged with the system. They also argue that the bureaucracy cannot be a substitute to the political government. Their assertion is that deferment of elections alienates people from the system.

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