Wednesday, May 23, 2018
 News Details
Deferment of by-poll

By B L Saraf

Election commission has deferred by – election for Anantnag Parliamentary constituency, scheduled for 12th April. The postponement has come in the wake of poll boycott and violence seen during voting for Srinagar parliamentary segment, on 9th April. As per the Commission’s Notification, voting will now be held on 25th May.

Postponement of election is not unheard of. In the past, for various reasons, many a time election to the Assembly or the Parliamentary seats, across the country, has been deferred. Cancellation of RK Nagar Assembly election in TN is the latest example. Normally, there is nothing unusual in the postponement. But in Kashmir ‘ the normal’ has, since long, gone topsy-turvy. We see a paradox ! What could be said in favor of an issue opposite of that also sounds convincing. Therefore much can be said in favor or against the postponement of the polling. And arguments on either side will ring true. Nationalistic cause, nonetheless, has suffered. The so-called mainstream political parties, too, cannot go unscathed.

Some argue, the last minute postponement of the by -poll will show State capitulating to the separatists forces, thus emboldening them to raise the pitch of separatism. That there being no guarantee that situation will stabilize till 25th May to make it conducive for a meaningful election, they argue further, makes this decision all the more unwise one. Some, however, see merit in the postponement and contend that had the Anantnag by -election gone Srinagar way, in terms of abysmally low turnout and loss of human lives, situation could go far worse. After all a State is expected to show a human face and shun an adventurist behavior. No Government worth the salt would like to precipitate the matter, or risk lives of the innocent people. Sometimes, it is better to err in favor of a larger good.

Given that summers in Kashmir, in the recent past, have been consumed by the separatists agitations devising of by-poll schedule for two parliamentary seats in Valley could be a case of misjudgment. Beginning of summer, in Kashmir, is hardly a time to go for an exercise which, even at peaceful places, is inherently a polarizing one. Here, it soon assumes anti-national dimension. Prudence demanded that the process was held back for some time. We see an unsavory situation developing where MHA and EC stand pitted against each other on the timing of these by- elections.

April, 9, indeed, marks a new low in the three decade old turbulence in the Valley. It hurts to see the gains accumulated, over the period, in the electoral battle field getting frittered away. Since 1996, the election process had come on the track with voter participation increasing after every election held for various bodies like, Panchayats, Assembly and the Lok-Sabha. Even in 2008, after highly polarizing Amaranath land row, people in Kashmir came out in large numbers to elect the State Assembly. For this reason and many more, it must be examined as to what has gone so wrong that people in Valley have almost shunned the elections.

State Government will have to share some responsibility for the Sunday fiasco. As per the TV reports situation, initially, wasn’t that bad as it turned out to be in the end. At number of places people had gathered to cast vote, but it took just half a dozen miscreants to scare them away.

For GOI, the poll fiasco has come at the most inopportune time when unpredictable US President, Donald Trump has, through his representative in the UN, resurrected the ghost of mediation between India and Pakistan on the ‘ K ‘ issue. Lest some more elements try to fish in, the Central Government should pay immediate attention to the problem. A benign, meaningful and result oriented activism on its part is called for.

PDP candidate for Anantnag parliamentary constituency, Mufti Tasduq did no good to his political future in, hastily, demanding deferment of the by- election. He seemed to have got unnerved by the situation. Granted, it being his maiden foray in Kashmir’s muddied political waters the unpleasant circumstances may have overwhelmed him. But then he will have to make choice, rather soon, is he ready to accept the challenge or look poor picture of Rahul Gandhi, who despite getting numerous opportunities, has failed to come of his own as a political leader.

There is as much pressing need for the mainstream politicians to introspect as it is for the State and Central Governments to search for the cause or causes. As if the unprecedented low voter turnout on 9th April polling for Srinagar constituency wasn’t enough, the postponement of Anantnag Constituency for what happened in Srinagar, may inflict a heavy blow to the very existence of these ‘ mainstream parties. Their role, particularly of the NC, in run up the by-election has been anything but helpful to the cause of election process. It looked as if they were in competition with the separatist to tear asunder the fragile peace in the Valley, so needed for a meaningful election exercise. Line between the mainstream and the separatism got so blurred as to make it impossible to distinguish one from the other.

Farooq Abdullah may see a political disaster overtaking State soon. He should, in remembrance to his golden days spent in enjoying executive power and pelf while adorning nationalistic attire, contribute his bit to avert such a disaster. He may desist from stoking fire of separatism. Rather, he should ponder why NC’s political influence is on the decline. This neither here nor there attitude will, sooner than later, come to haunt these ‘Mainstream’ players that they will find themselves ‘ nowhere’.

The good Doctor may, as well, introspect how much his and son Omar’s bad governance has contributed to the present mess in Kashmir.

Stone pelters and their masters, where ever they are, must pause and think how far will this bloodletting venture go on. Only yesterday one innocent Kashmiri truck driver lost his life to the stone pelting enterprise.

The postponement of the Anantnag by – election may have, momentarily, saved situation for the administration. Will it cure the malaise called ‘Political Issue “, or it will only be symptomatic cure? It is a lesson learning occasion. Hope, the quarters concerned care to learn and allow our prayers for a better voter turnout on the polling date.

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )

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