The first phase of the first-ever District Development Councils (DDCs) polls was over on November 28. It was a highly peaceful electoral exercise. There was no boycott call. No violence anywhere in the UT, including Jihad-gripped Kashmir. There was no coercion. The voters ventured out of their houses on their own. No rigging. No mal-practice. No political party, not even the Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — consisting of seven essentially separatist outfits — questioned the electoral exercise. It happened for the first time after 1951, when Nehru-imposed Sheikh Abdullah administration rigged the Constituent-cum-Legislative Assembly elections 100 per cent to create a 100 per cent NC Assembly. The PAGD consists of NC, PDP, PC, ANC, CPI-M, CPI and J&K People’s Movement – all Kashmir-based.The voter turnout in Kashmir must have shocked the Gupkaris. The reason: Only 34 per cent of the total electorate in the 25 territorial constituencies in Kashmir Valley exercised franchise. In contrast, 64 per cent polling took place in the 18 territorial constituencies in Jammu province – seven less than in Kashmir. This difference should further explain many things.The Gupkaris had left no stone unturned to mislead the gullible Kashmiri Muslims by seeking to create an impression that the DDC polls were a sort of ‘referendum’ and it was incumbent upon the Kashmiri voters to come out in large numbers and vote in one direction so that the hands of the votaries of the pre-August 5, 2019 politico-constitutional status were strengthened. These Gupkaris, particularly Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, had repeatedly appealed to the Kashmiri voters to vote for the PAGD candidates so that ”BJP could be kept out and thieves (PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah) taught a lesson’. In effect, they had repeatedly told the Kashmiri voters, coupled with warnings, that if they wanted to get back what was ‘stolen’ by the PM and the HM, they had no other option but to vote en-block for the PAGD candidates.Indeed, the Kashmiri electorate snubbed the Gupkaris and rejected their no-holds-barred communally and politically motivated propaganda. And remember, these 34 per cent of the votes polled didn’t go to the PAGD candidates alone. These votes were shared between the candidates belonging to the PAGD, the Sonia Congress, the BJP, the JK Apni Party of Altaf Bukhari and the J&K People Democratic Front of Mohd Yasin besides several independent and rebel candidates. There were a number of territorial constituencies in the Valley where the NC, the PDP and the PC candidates fought against the PAGD candidates, thus puncturing the Gupkar balloon.That only 34 per cent of the total votes polled were shared between at least 11 outfits and independent and rebel candidates should clinch the whole issue and establish that the Gupkaris have lost the confidence of the common people. But more than that, the low voter turnout should leave none in any doubt that the Abdullahs, the Muftis, the Lones and the Tarigamis have lost their sheen and appeal and that the common Kashmiris no longer trust the Gupkaris. Courtesy: their acts of omission and commission; their politics of loot and plunder; their politics of deceit and opportunism; and their insatiable lust for power, shifting stances and unholy alliances with Congress and BJP for the sake of power and pelf.Several reports, which emanated from Kashmir on the day of polling, clearly suggested that those who ventured out of their houses braving the extreme cold conditions voted only for development and for an institution, whose duty it would be to redress their day-to-day problems and mitigate their hardships. Many even went to the extent of saying that ‘they have nothing to do with Article 370 and Article 35A’, ‘these were the bigger issues, which should be left to the case of the legislative assembly as and when elected’, and that ‘they want schools, hospitals, roads, safe drinking water and peaceful environment’. There is a view in Kashmir that these ‘Pupkaris are not fighting for Article 35A, Article 370 and restoration of special status and that they are fighting for their own survival and for saving the money and the state and forest lands they looted over the period’. The low voter turnout in Kashmir needs to be viewed in the context.Prof Hari Om
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