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Challenge to Kashmir’s political mainstream

[ March 11, 2017 ]

With the announcement of poll schedule for bye election to Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies the mainstream political parties mainly National Conference, PDP and Congress disconnected from the people in the aftermath of last year’s unrest is facing a huge challenge of attracting people from protest rallies to polling booths.

Interestingly the Srinagar parliamentary is the strong bastion of the main opposition National Conference and South Kashmir is the stronghold of ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party. In the fastly changing political and security scenario in Kashmir wing or loosing the election is not as important as is the participation of the people in the elections and a peaceful atmosphere for the conduct of elections. So bigger challenge is for political parties who will try to attract people now a days protesting against the government forces near the encounter sites. With a new security scenario unfolding in Kashmir the police and paramilitaries in view of the recent happening in South will come across a lot of difficulties in providing security to the contesting candidates and their worker in holding election rallies more so in parts of South Kashmir where people have been obstructing police, paramilitaries and army in conducting anti-militancy encounters. Keeping in view the recent statements of the army chief General Bipin Rawat and the state’s Director General Police Dr S.P Vaid against the militants and the people joining public protests near encounter sites, the contesting candidates and their workers will find it difficult to find people joining election rallies and finally moving to polling booths on the days of polling in both the parliamentary constituencies. While in 2014 assembly elections the people were upset with the working of previous Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition government and were eager to vote for PDP to give it an opportunity to work for more relaxations in the travel and trade between the divided parts of Jammu & Kashmir but with PDP allying with BJP and BJP making repeated attempts to further erode article 370 of the Indian constitution giving special status to the state the people have lost faith not only in PDP but in the working of the mainstream politics in Kashmir.

So it is not the issue of finding winners and losers in the bye elections in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies but it is the issue of reviving the mainstream politics the key players of which are National Conference, PDP and Congress in Kashmir. In the presence of the increasing escalation in the militant attacks and increasing tendencies of people to obstruct the anti-militancy operations by holding protests near the encounter sites, the key contesting political parties National Conference, PDP and Congress are facing a much bigger challenge than the one Farooq Abdullah faced in contesting the 1996 assembly elections after seven long years of presidential rule in the state.