In the dock Both the parties stand at the crossroads now

By staying away from the municipal and panchayat elections, the two regional parties–NC and the PDP—have placed themselves in the dock. The four-phase municipal elections are a sufficient bellwether for the next elections, both for assembly and parliament. That the voter turn out slumped to a pathetic low of five percent speaks of the awful alienation of the people in Kashmir towards the bloated claim of ‘strengthening democracy at the grossroots’. There were no takers to the myth peddled. But they had compulsion—electoral and diplomatic—to create a smokescreen and sell it as ‘democratic involvement’ of the people. Who will tell them that in an era of high-tech social connectivity these kind of camouflages are self deceptive. World cannot be bribed or misled by the farrago of distortions and strap-hanging on the false constructs. The fury of electrons have decimated the iron curtains and made it practically impossible to hide behind the big lofty banners. Anyways the creators of this showbiz- after they look normal- will have little to rejoice, but much to mourn. Should they have made people wait for the project ‘democracy’ as they did in case of Anantnag parliamentary seat, which lies vacant for the last two years, they would not have roiled in huge embarrassment.

Back to Delhi patronized touts projected as regional parties. It was not the fear of low percentage of votes in the present civic and panchayat elections that forced the NC leadership to ‘ boycott’ the elections. What forced the Abdullah House to change the decision was the palpable disinterest of the people, including its party workers, towards poll exercise. It crafted the pretext that until the Delhi government provides ‘assurance’ to ‘protect’ the Article 35-A (that defines state subject law), it won’t participate the local body elections. That, however, far from convincing exposed its double-speak. Farooq Abdullah, the NC chief, has , even weeks before the announcement of the poll schedule, cast himself in the election campaign mould and asked people to vote for ‘ better future and development’, for which he has won tremendous accolades from the governor Satya Pal Malik. Remember also the ‘clarification’ of the junior Abdullah. He has said that while staying away from these elections, the NC has ‘not called for boycott’. In a subtle way he was inviting people to participate, whether as proxies or independents. Notwithstanding that ‘relaxation’, as the vote turn out showed, the people preferred to sit at home—even to the bewilderment of the first time Kashmir deployed CRPF troopers.

Aware that his invoking Article 35A in defence of his ‘Boycott’ argument has, far from silencing people raised many a question, Farooq Abdullah said that given the situation on the ground, there would be least public participation in the municipal and the panchayat elections.

One would ask, was not this fear looming over when he would in last September love to frolic on the tarmate of Srinagar airport to convey his loyalty to the masters and do as asked at their bidding. As is its wont, PDP follows the grand master of deceptive politics. It too opted for the boycott.

Whatever the compelling necessities of not being part of the poll process undergoing at now, both the Kashmir-based parties have landed themselves in a complicated situation.

They will be judged by the same scales they have applied in the civil body elections. Without witnessing any slightest departure from the grinding assault we continue to reel under, the dismissive attitude of the people towards any poll process is bound to remain unchanged.

In fact, with no initiative from the BJP government at Delhi—which wants to regain power showcasing machismo and hubris, at the same time squeezing any chance for result-oriented dialogue process—the anger and resentment of the people towards the regional parties is but to intensify. All these years, these parties have played frauds on the voters.
The honor of trust people reposed on them they have raped. Their mandate they have sold for their self interests. Name any poll pledge they have fulfilled.
They brutalized their innocence. All this narrows down their political space. There is a growing disillusionment and disgust for these parties and their leadership.

The all moot question is, will the NC and the PDP, in the backdrop of their poll boycott for civic elections, do the same for the upcoming state and parliamentary elections? Will the apprehension of low percentage of votes dissuade them from contesting these elections? Will the ‘security’ issue of the party worker outweigh all other considerations? If they choose to boycott the assembly and parliament elections, citing the reasons they gave while deciding not to participate the local body elections, they will find their politics anchored on some principled turf. In deciding the opposite they will have to answer many tough questions. They have raised the bar and given it some kind of public sanction and any attempt to run through it incurs the risk of not only damaging their limbs but also exposing the stink of their duplicity.

One will ask, applying the same parameters they used in absenting from the civic body elections, is it only for the overarching lust for perks and privileges that occupying seats of legislators and parliamentarians brings. You look impatiently craving—as if it is a matter of life and death for you– to contest elections. You are not drenched in shame even if the vote turn out does not touch the two digit mark.

The miserably low poll percentage dipped to lowest of 7 percent when Farooq Abdullah was declared ‘winner’ in the Srinagar parliamentary election last year. But the NC leader hauled on with the pride of ‘peoples mandate’ and enjoying all the fortunes the post brings.

What I have said about the NC, equally holds good for the PDP, that only some months before would be too much effusive in praising the BJP and the Sangh parivar. It was Modi Ji and Raj Nath Ji that Mehbooba Ji would intuitively throw in response to the greetings offered to her!