State Assembly Elections in Indian-administered Kashmir: People’s Participation a Strategy or Paradigm Shift.
State assembly elections 2014 in Indian administered Jammu Kashmir have glimmered a manic deliberation among the parties to the conflict and stakeholders. Indian media and politicians at Delhi and elsewhere in the country are depicting the participation of ordinary masses in the vale of Kashmir as a trust building notion on the Union of India and rejection of separatist sentiments. Pakistani media on the other hand remained both unconcerned and silent or repeated the same rhetoric of yellow journalism. Kashmir based analysts and activists are twisting the story that fits best in their pre-occupied state of mind. The reality is that after almost three decades of boycotts, strikes and shutdowns Kashmiri people decided to vote instead of boycott. Some intellectuals and writers are taking it as an abrupt decision and others are debating it as a dissatisfactory notion from the state of affairs Kashmiri people have been going through since 1988.
What basically happened has its roots in the past, political evolution, experimental judgment and revisited wisdom. It definitely involves the role of Hurriyat Conference/other separatist factions, lessons learned from militancy and a series of boycotts, role of Pakistani establishment and that of Indian government. Understanding the linkages between past and present situations in the valley of Kashmir is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the events and chain of the events that, in a nutshell, is why history matters. Finding a linkage with past and present is not only useful rather it is an essential part in understanding the social, economic and political attitudes and beliefs in a constituency. The glance of the past is essential for ‘rooting’ people, ideas, movements and events in time. Does it really matter to find the correct answer? The answer is yes it is. Because without finding the correct answer only speculations cannot put the course of “what we are today” in the right perspective.
Elections 2014 of the state assembly in Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir have initiated a new chapter in the political panorama of the region. A decade of off-and-on detente between India and Pakistan has drawn to a close after months of deteriorating relations that began with the election victory in May 2014 of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party and the appointment as India’s Prime Minister of a noted hard-liner, Narendra Modi. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi after had already triumphed in a landslide victory across India in the general elections held in the spring of 2014 is continuously altering the political map of Indian Union by winning the elections held for various state assemblies (constituents of Indian Union). Prime Minister Modi has decided to take that heat to the state of Jammu Kashmir to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiri people.
It is chilling winter in Kashmir where some parts are so cold just like frozen Siberia. Glaciers of Himalayas are melting down due to the political heat and participation of Kashmiri people in the elections after almost three decades. People in the valley who were accustomed to the calls of boycott and shut down calls from both the pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan leadership and in practice have sacrificed their daily means of bread and butter in solidarity with the anti-India leadership since 1987. But in 2014 the corridor of political venue has altered the paintings on the Kashmiri canvas. Instead of shutter down and wheel jam strikes lenses of both electronic and print media are capturing the live enthusiasm of people participation in the electoral process.
This apparent shift in the valley raises some serious concerns as well as some lessons to be learned. Indian state-owned media is propagating the events as a paradigm shift in the Kashmiri politics while Pakistani media is silent on the electoral process of Indian held Kashmir. The politicians across Jammu Kashmir are interpreting the events well in accordance with their pre-occupied state of mind and trying to concrete and cement their long-held opinions on the very issue.