J&K wronged over Assembly polls

Voters stand in a queue to cast their votes in the 8th phase of Panchayat elections, at Bajalta village in Jammu, on December 8, 2018. PTI

The Election Commission has made a serious mistake by not holding Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir when it is ready to hold the Lok Sabha elections and has announced the poll schedule for the state. The commission has cited security considerations for not holding the Assembly elections. This is unconvincing because the security situation has not prevented the commission from holding the Lok Sabha polls. Only a few weeks ago, urban local body and panchayat elections were held in the state. The security situation was not very different then. Governor Satya Pal Malik has been claiming that the security situation has improved in the state since then. The decision about the elections was probably taken by the central government and not by the Election Commission. It is unfortunate that the commission allowed itself to be guided by the government on a matter where it should have exercised independent judgement. 

It seems narrow political considerations rather than security-related reasons were at work for the strange decision. The BJP perhaps does not consider it important to capture power in the state at the moment. Or, perhaps it thinks that it is important to have its own man installed in power there and wants to take time to do that. But there is a cleverer and cynical intention behind the holding of the Lok Sabha elections. Jammu and Kashmir has six Lok Sabha seats. If, after the elections, the NDA is short of majority at the Centre, the seats from J&K may turn out to be of help or may even become crucial. Therefore, elections have to be held for the Lok Sabha seats and the party, or a potential ally, has to win them. It is such narrow considerations and the readiness to play with elections that created and aggravated the situation in Kashmir in the first place. 

There is a democratic deficit in Kashmir and that has been at the root of the disaffection which has taken different forms like militancy and terrorism. Elections give the people the essential sense of participation in governance. It should be noted that militancy started rising in Kashmir after the rigged elections of 1987. But in the 1990s and later, when elections were regularly held and their legitimacy was accepted, the situation improved. It is in the last five years that all those gains were eroded. The BJP also undermined its own coalition government in the state. All other parties in the state have demanded the holding of elections to the Assembly. But the BJP has persisted with its security-oriented approach and has not cared for the broader politics behind the unrest in the state. It has proved that again now. 

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J&K wronged over Assembly polls

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