Exit poll prediction dismays people in Kashmir

Kashmiri voters queue up to cast their vote at a polling station during the fourth phase of India's general elections at Damhal Hanjipora Kulgam district, south of Srinagar on April 29, 2019. (AFP File Photo)

The exit poll prediction of NDA returning to power has dismayed most of the people in Kashmir who fear that if a BJP government returns to power, it would take decisions detrimental for the Valley.

In its manifesto, the saffron party has declared that it would scrap Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution if it returns to power. Article 370 grants special status to J&K, while Article 35A empowers the state legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents”, their special rights and privileges.

From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to BJP president Amit Shah, most of the right-wing party leaders repeatedly called for reviews of both the articles during the recently concluded Lok Sabha election campaigning. 

From the last two days since the exit poll predations showed BJP ahead of its rivals, anxiety has crept in among common people and regional political parties in Kashmir.

“If Modi again comes to power, the situation in Kashmir will become from bad to worse as the saffron party will take hard decisions. From abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A to granting citizenship rights to lakhs of West Pakistan refugees, the BJP government may take every decision to change the demography of the Muslim majority state,” said Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, a shopkeeper from old city Srinagar.

He said that there was a view that if the government changes in Delhi, there will be some sort of normalcy in the Valley. “But now it seems, there are difficult days ahead for Kashmir.”

His views were echoed by Zubair Ahmad, a university student. “If exit poll predictions prove right, next five years will be tough for Kashmiris not only here but across the country. If attacks on Kashmiris outside the state in recent years is any indication, there are tougher days ahead for students, businessmen and others working across India,” he fears.

Though regional National Conference and PDP express doubts over the exit polls predictions, they too doubt the BJP’s intentions towards the special status of J&K.

“People are scared of BJP returning to power as they know the right-wing party wants to attack the special status of the state. But in coming assembly elections people in Kashmir will have to take a careful decision during voting,” says NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was in alliance with BJP till last June, says if the BJP comes back to power, the regional party will strategies accordingly to protect the special status of the state.

“In case BJP returns to power, our party is ready to protect the special status of the state,” PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmad Mir said.

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