Return of politics to Kashmir?
The past few weeks in the Kashmir Valley have been ripe with several conspiracy theories that have arisen due to the unusual deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley, bringing back memories of the events leading up to the repeal of Section 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution. There were rumors of granting formal statehood to the Jammu region alone and maintaining TU status for the Kashmir Valley. Other rumors suggested the creation of a new administrative region after the merger of South Kashmir with Jammu and so on. But in the end, all of these rumors turned out to be exactly what they were – rumors.
This does not mean, however, a return to the status quo of political stagnation in Jammu and Kashmir. There are indeed more than whispers of the resumption of political activity in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which has led to a whole new level of backdoor political shenanigans.
To begin with, the period following the repeal of Articles 370 and 35a of India’s constitution was not exactly a period of political stagnation. The twin regions of the Jammu and Kashmir Valley both saw a mini-assembly like elections in the form of SDC elections which people turned out in large numbers, even in the militancy assigned to South Kashmir. and where the elections were conducted indirectly on party symbols.
In this sense, the territory of the Union has experienced electoral political activity comparable to the State Assembly elections which took place in West Bengal or to the Panchayat elections which took place in Uttar Pradesh. The DDC elections were essentially a testing ground for examining several political maneuvers which should decide on the resumption of political activity in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
The first and most important thing that the SDC elections showed is that the inhabitants of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have not lost their interest in electoral politics. Many political analysts and so-called “Kashmiri specialists” had predicted that the inhabitants of the Kashmir valley would no longer trust the future elections which were to be held under the Indian constitution after the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.
However, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, including those of the Kashmir Valley, surprised everyone by participating in large numbers in the SDC elections and thus proving that all political analysts were wrong. It is however important to mention here that these SDC elections were in no way a referendum or an endorsement by the people of Jammu and Kashmir for the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India.
These SDC elections were held on sub-local issues such as water, electricity and roads. The elections, however, allowed the UT administration and policymakers in Delhi to gauge the mood of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who made it clear that they wanted their problems resolved through peaceful means. and democratic.
The SDC elections further provided policy makers with insight into the political positioning of both the old political configuration and the new political configuration, particularly in the Kashmir Valley. Even though the elections were not officially held on party symbols, the choice of candidates unofficially reflected the party’s position in the twin regions of the Jammu and Kashmir valley. The results of the DDC made it very clear that the old political system continued to be favored by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The PAGD or the so-called “Gupkar Alliance”, an agglomeration of many national and Kashmir-centered political parties, of which Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah led the National J&K Conference and Mehbooba Mufti led the PDP, won over 100 seats, but mainly in the Kashmir Valley, where as the BJP emerged as the largest political party winning mainly from the Jammu region.
The new “durbari party” as well as the emergence of so-called “popular leaders” as an alternative to the old political regime did not deliver the expected results and it was clear that the traditional political parties of Jammu- and Kashmir, especially the Kashmir-centric parties, continue to hold sway over the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
This has clearly led to a change in the approach of the UT administration as well as policy makers in Delhi towards the Kashmir-centric parties. According to unconfirmed reports, the central government and UT administration are planning to invite major J&K political parties, including the national conference and the PDP, for discussions on the demarcation process, a step that foreshadows the holding of new elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The only question that remains is whether the “Gupkar Alliance” will meet with the central government and the UT administration as a single unit or meet individually. There are reports that the reestablishment of the state of Jammu and Kashmir could also be on the table or the central government could postpone it and allow political parties to fight over it as an electoral issue among the people. of Jammu and Kashmir, given that the restoration of the state is something that is not only desired by the people of the Kashmir valley, but the same has also been demanded by the Jammu unit of the BJP .
Furthermore, there is speculation that the new Biden administration of the United States is also interested and urges the central government to restart the electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible.
In addition, the Modi government is also said to be interested in completing the process of changing the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, which it began on August 5, 2019, when it repealed Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. ‘India and split the state and demoted the status from J&K to UT. It is believed that the central government now wants to complete the political process by holding the elections after the demarcation and handing over power to the newly elected regime.
Overall, it is clear that there is change in the air and a restart of the political process is on the cards in Jammu and Kashmir, which bodes well for the people of UT, who are suffering the economic devastation, political instability and adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new political setup will kick off the necessary legislative and development process in a state ruled by authorities for 2 years that will bring positive change in the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Warning:Javed Beigh is a young political leader and Secretary of State for the People’s Democratic Front. He is also a distinguished writer and renowned speaker. He can be contacted @javedbeigh on social media platforms. The opinions expressed are his own.
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