The four-phase polls for elections to local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, whose results were announced on Saturday, show that while the polling was adequate in Jammu and Ladakh, in the seriously troubled Kashmir Valley few were interested.
This leads to the political question why polls were needed at this very time when the security and the psychological situation in the Valley is probably the worst it has been in a long time. The last local bodies’ election was held in 2005. What was the compulsion to hold the elections now is not clear. It is out of the question these sham polls will clear the path for political normalisation.
The present dispensation has badly botched the political and security situation in Kashmir. It had to jettison its own PDP-BJP government and impose Central rule on the sensitive state. In the circumstances, did it want to convey a sense of false normality by holding municipal elections?
Even when Jammu and Ladakh are accounted for, only 35 per cent of the 17 lakh electorate turned up to vote. In the Valley, the voting was barely four per cent. Kashmir’s key parties, National Conference and PDP boycotted. For security reasons, the names of candidates were kept secret and announced only when results were declared.
In the Valley, the BJP won big time, especially in the terrorism-hit south Kashmir districts. Its candidates were imported from outside the Valley under security escort. They won seats for which elections were not held. They will probably never return to Kashmir to sit in municipal councils deliberations. Kashmir, welcome to democracy!...