The atmosphere across India is abuzz with election noise and entire country is wearing the look of a festival, rightly called by some as the festival of democracy. The print as well as the electronic media is dominated by the extensive coverage of election related activities like lectures, speeches, debates, processions, rallies, road shows etc. The political parties have put in every shred of their strength in the election fray to woo the voters and make it to Parliament, the highest seat of unbridled power and ultimate control in addition to infinite luxuries and perks. Over the years the politics has become more of a lucrative profession than a public service commitment and the political parties and the politicians are in continues process of acquiring mastery over the game of politics. Fighting elections is now more of marketing speciality than an honest political battle of principles and commitments.
Not only that, parties like BJP have mastered itself in creating market for a particular set of commodities and then sell it to the gullible voters. Being a major actor on the national election scene, a nationalist party has created a huge market of hate against Pakistan and Kashmir and demonization of Kashmiris and Muslims across the country. Master of the game as the party has become, it created a market for the hate politics and polarization much before the elections, hitting a high after Pulwama attack. Claiming the ownership of armed forces and their valour plus undivided copyrights of nationalism, feeding the countrymen with fables of surgical strikes and air strikes and spitting venom against all who differ with its policies has become the hall mark of their poll campaign.
While political intimidation against Kashmir and Kashmiris and Muslims is more than visible, there’s no question that these seemingly isolated acts are part of a larger pattern. Against a backdrop of rising social and political polarization, the anti Pakistan hype and war hysteria created prior to elections now seems a well planned strategy which is now being used to drive people to the election rallies. An occasional lynching, properly timed hate speeches by the BJP top leaders are helping to keep the Josh afire. Gone are the days when elections used to be fought on the basis of individual character, past track records, future development plans and over all the progress report of the parties and individuals. Today parties not only market their own merchandise during elections, they also create the demand and market for it much before the actual sale time comes.
Congress and other regional and the national parties also marketing their own specialities to hit the voters psyche and bring them in their fold, at least till the election fever is over. All the parties are claiming to have done whatever good has happened to the country and accusing others for all the evils and wrongs. However in the overall scenario, the BJPians are way ahead as the masters of the game.
Coming to our own valley, we have political parties and politicians who are a step ahead than those elsewhere in the country. The super masters of game as they are, they are selling us same commodities since 1947, without ever delivering any. They have such mastery over the game that they could, as the saying goes, ‘sell a refrigerator to Eskimos’. Here the poetical parties do not have to invent much of the marketing strategies as the market has huge vacuum for same merchandize they have been dream selling us since decades.
Even as the beginning of the year 2019 has predictably been more tumultuous and violent, the election noise has provided a little shift from the normal discourse of the daily routine. Although the current situation has every potential of forecast of one more violent summer without any signs of relief or breather from the miseries, the politicians are busy offering all sorts of bounties like return of peace, respectful living and taking the valley out of political violence.
Whereas till date no change in the administrative or political setup has been able to force even a little change in the ground scenario, we are being fed with assurances of all whatever the valley needs in terms of security, dignity and peace. We are being given huge assurances of hope and light even when the unfortunate lives in the troubled valley continue to be barred from hope and denied to experience a peaceful existence generations after generation. In a situation where there is a visibly acute dearth of political urgency for those who are in the helm to bring the gloomed valley of out of political obscurity, those out of power are out to outsmart one another with claims of being capable of bringing back everything which has been lost ( or sold ).
In a situation where India and Pakistan coming face to face in the battle ground almost saw the valley doomed, we are assured of making both the countries sit for talks to solve the Kashmir problem and putting an end to addition to stories of suffering and trauma among the Kashmiris.
Thus all the mainstream “poetical” parties are back with dream selling politics. Contrary to earlier elections, this time some amount of election activities have been visible and leaders of all the parties have been able to attract some crowds. The boycott calls are not audible any more, although the people in general are as usual indifferent to the show. Consequently the parties got encouraged to move few steps higher and offer bigger packages like protection of Article of 35A and 370, autonomy, AFSPA repeal, releasing of political prisoners, even restoration of offices of Prime Minister and Sadr-e- Riyasat. To elevate the mood a little further, a touch of plebiscite has also been added. Such promises would have meant a soothing balm in a situation when ordinary life is engulfed by the emotional pressures placed on the valley by sustained violence and bereavement? However one wonders as to how they can do all this given the fact that this is the elections for the parliament, not the state assembly, and a member or two in the house will not make any difference to policy decisions at the center.
Both National Conference and PDP are promising to safeguard us from the BJP onslaught presuming that the valley has forgotten that both of them collaborated with BJP on one or other occasion, whenever the chance of grabbing power came. No wonder they will follow suit even this time as well. When the goal is to acquire power, the selection of route doesn’t matter.
In a normal course of proceeding, elections and electing public representatives would have meant all that is being promised and assured, but not in Kashmir any way. Here the history of our political dispensation does not show anything more than deceit, treachery, lies and hypocrisy. In fact what the situation we are in is mainly the hand work of these mainstream politicians whose main aim is to grab the power for their personal and family benefits and luxuries. Today the valleyites have lost hope in the entire political system after having been betrayed again and again by the same people and also by those they opted for change. We have always found ourselves struck between the devil and the deep sea after every election when the people who assure us all the bounties change their narrative and virtually turn anti-people after securing their desired positions. Having tried all the available options, today we are in a situation where the choice with the people is not between good and bad, but between bad and worse. This is the reason that majority of the population are completely disenchanted with the process and those who opt to vote are likely to feel same way after the elections.