By Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat and Ajaz Ahmad Bhat
The elections and election process in Kashmir is in vague. Nothing can be predicted and forecasted about the temper and mood of people when it is about elections and election boycott in Kashmir. In past it has been found and observed that on occasions election boycott appeal by “separatist” leaders had profound impact on masses and people not abstained from voting but stopped others from casting their vote. However, on occasions people defied “separatists” election boycott call and turned in large numbers to vote. The fluctuating mood and behavior of people astonishes political Pundits and Gurus and make their philosophies and doctrines hollow.
Amid this not only a common man but advocates of boycott philosophy seems caught in devil and deep sea. They are looking confused, chaosed and fuddled. They are not clear about the philosophy and purpose of election boycott especially when there has been high voter turnout. The only thing they propagate to advocate and campaign for boycott philosophy is that they make propaganda that Indian Government shows elections in Kashmir as a process of democracy in the State. Indian Government shows international organisations like United Nations and international public that majority of people in Kashmir believe in Indian democracy and respect and favour it. They have great respect and regard for Indian democracy and constitution.
It is only a handful, self motivated chunk who instigate people on the behalf and backing of Pakistan. Besides this they expend religion and religious philosophies to keep people away from voting. Looking at their manifesto certain common questions arise and ask for reply. People in Kashmir, mostly belonging to rural areas and urban outstrikes in large numbers are coming out to vote in underway Assembly elections and have done so on occasions in past also. In the first phase of election which were held on 25 November 2014 the polling percentage was seventy one percent and in the second phase of elections held on 2nd December 2014 there is a re-run of polling percentage, seventy one percent polling was recorded in the second phase in the eighteen seats.
According to Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, the numbers are expected to go up by 1-2 percent. Thus polling percentage of the second may even advance than the first phase. In 2008 Assembly elections state witnessed Sixty five percent polling. The question is, as propagated by “separatists” can Indian Government not use this as propaganda to show the world that the most of populace in Kashmir respect and favour Indian Constitution and believe in Indian democracy? If it is so then what is relevance of boycott strategy and philosophy? And more than that when “separatist” leaders themselves fought elections in past what Indian government propagated and described that at national and international level.
The higher voter turnout especially in rural areas and urban outstrikes and election boycott or low voter turnout in urban areas in Kashmir will nor serves the purpose of “ separatists” neither justifies claims of New Delhi. The only thing it does is, it alienates the alienated lot, divides the people on religious and regional lines. Both separatist and New Delhi needs to think beyond election boycott and high voter turnout for permanent and peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue which is acceptable to people of all the three regions of the state — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat is head of the department and teaches Sociology at Government Degree College Banihal Jammu and Kashmir. Dr.Fayaz is MPhil, PhD, NET in Sociology besides having Masters in Political Science also. He has completed his Doctorate degree from Jamia Millia Islamia a reputed Central University of India. He has also been awarded centrally administered Doctoral Fellowship by India Council of Social Science Research. Ajaz Ahmad Bhat has a Master’s degree in Sociology and has cracked UGC NET Examination many times.