Poll bugle has been sounded in Jammu and Kashmir and the regional parties, as usual, are invoking the emotional issues to befool the electorate. The ruling National Conference had guaranteed the repealing of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) but every time they tried to take up the issue with the Government of India, they were left red-faced.
While the Congress – their coalition partner –counters and abhors every such move, the defense establishment, too, sabotages it and even attempts to nip this very thought deep under the debris. The Peoples Democratic Party, on the same page, has been making tall claims regarding their Self-Rule manifesto, but when it came to putting it to test, the party failed, despite being part of a coalition government with its own Chief Minister.
One wonders whether there is a need to befool common people over issues like restoration of autonomy, withdrawal of AFSPA or Self-Rule. All these years, these parties have worked on scripts written by outsiders, a corollary of which is the present political dispensation in the state in which these parties can’t form governments on their own. During the past decade, they had to depend on the Congress, in future they might have to knock the doors of another outsider in the form of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Why can’t our regional parties and other smaller political forces join hands and work in unison for the greater cause of Kashmiris. The state parties should, at least ensure, that the Congress and the BJP are kept at bay, if they really believe in what they propagate, to preserve the collective interests of Kashmir.
Notwithstanding the trauma people have experienced as a result of festering Kashmir imbroglio, these parties could have really served the cause had they been responsive to the pressing needs of the people who in realistic terms form their mandate. Sincere efforts should have been made to account for negotiating the basic needs of people.
But the ground reality hardly supports the official narrative as can be attested to ever increasing protests which although start for basic issues like roads, water and electricity but end with the furthering of the feeling of alienation.
There are still a large number of roads awaiting the much needed attention. There are areas which lack the drinking water facility and where there are arrangements of tap water people suffer for want of filtering plants. Electricity has now become a national crisis in Kashmir. And then there are never ending complaints with regard to red-tapism, unsatisfactory performance of our health sector, inordinate delay in the execution of public works, corruption and nepotism in public life, official high-handedness, lack of accountability etc.
It would be a great service to people if these political parties make themselves accountable and shape their election strategies in the backdrop of their performance on these issues rather than shelve themselves of their responsibilities and hoodwink the common populace by resorting to the political rhetoric of autonomy or Self-Rule to captivate the popular imagination and secure their votes for power.