Regional groups in Kashmir to be blamed for low voter turn out in polls

J K News Commentary
Jammu and Kashmir has a peculiarity that it is unable to decide what it actually needs, and the worse thing is that it revels in self doubts. Before the current controversy arose about the deployment of the troops in Kashmir in view of the vast threats emerging from across the border, there was a clamour for elections by some of the regional groups. These political groups have been demanding the polls for they want the people to have an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. There is absolutely every justification for that a democratic state must have the democratically elected government.
A big issue needs to be addressed before holding the polls whether these political groups have been able to generate enthusiasm for them among the people. The answer is no. And the recent parliamentary polls in Kashmir have shown that how the polling percentage stayed below 10 per cent and in some of the areas it was below 2 per cent.
For example, the veteran politician and five-time chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who heads the oldest political group in Kashmir- National Conference- could not enthuse the people to come out and vote in large numbers. In fact, the polling was quite dismal. It was quite distressing in the main city of Srinagar where it was less than 5 per cent. It was the voting in Kangan and Charar-e-Sharief Assembly segments that gave some respectability to his election.
It may be true that the election is election. Winner can win by a vote even, but the basic fact cannot be ignored that there should be an overall respectable turn out of the voters that was not there.
The scene was much worse in south Kashmir where People’s Democratic Party chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was among the contestants. She lost the polls and polled very few votes. She ended third in the race. Even her native town of Bijbehra polled just 2 per cent of the polls.
Undeniable as it is there have been threats of militants to the voters. But this also is a fact that the people have used the militants’ threat as an excuse not to vote because they are angry with the regional parties that always exploited them, promised moon and delivered nothing on the ground.
The two regional parties National Conference and PDP that ruled Jammu and Kashmir alternatively in the past few decades- National Conference ruled for most of the time, while PDP emerged as a rival to the grand old party in 1999. These two decades , when analysed in right perspective have shown that the corruption prospered, the poor suffered and development appeared on papers in bold. The ground, however, was without anything substantial . Ultimately the people have lost faith in this leadership .
It is the time when the leaders of the two parties should introspect that how in the name of the democracy have inflicted body blows to the democracy , because elections alone don’t constitute the democracy. The elections are just one of the components in the democratic set up , the essence lies in delivering on the doable promises. And when these parties diverted attention of the people and asked them to side with them for they will get them some political moon ,as roads, schools, hospitals and water and electric supply were subservient to the political goals . Neither there was any political goal in sight, because it was a chimera , nor there was any work on the ground. That is what led to the disillusionment among the masses, particularly among youth . The polling percentage went down , while the frustration touched new heights.
Today, it is clear that these regional groups have destroyed the faith of the people in elections, that’s why they have turned away from the polling booths , resulting in dismal polling percentages in the elections .

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