The continuous democratic stalemate in Jammu and Kashmir raises serious questions on the nature and the future of the erstwhile State. The democratic process which has hit a bed-rock here is often sacrificed to the “larger cause” of integration by the government, their ambiguous shell-shocks are a “complete assimilation” but if viewed impartially by taking off the lenses of prejudice and partisanship it seems more of a balkanization drill rather than “integration.” This “integration” comes at the cost both locally and globally, an embarrassing situation which is deliberately made to be overlooked by canvassing Amit Shah as Bismark and Narendra Modi as Kaiser Wilhem-I through concocted manipulations and narratives.
The dismembering of Jammu and Kashmir from limb to limb has actually set in motion a series of unsure fears and ambiguities. To escape this fear, the government pulls off magical tricks and presents them as surprise to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. While Otto Von Bismark and Kaiser Wilhelm-I unified 39 German States and developed it, Amit Shah and Modi have balkanized and dismembered an existing State with an eye on the chair of power. The Pandora’s Box of shame which BJP opened for itself in Jammu and Kashmir is repeatedly tried to be closed by shrouding the crisis under well-manicured trips of European Parliamentarians, sponsorship of new regional political parties, and gimmicks like opening of multiplexes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The clock again turns back to the indifference and thoughtlessness of the government, globally the handling of Jammu and Kashmir affairs under Modi’s rule has come under severe criticism. Not being bothered much, they have kept proceeding further in their curious pursuit by doing everything minus “development.”
Quite contemporary historical events in Jammu and Kashmir’s elaborate history dates back to 5th August 2019. A series of decisions were taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led central government on that day, the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir went through a process of epic metamorphosis. The political uncertainty and imbroglio ensued that day continues even today. In India’s seventy five year long history as an Independent nation, for the first time a full-fledged state was dismembered into two union territories.
Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir had a semi-autonomous constitutional mechanism in place prior to that, which many political thinkers and leaders to this day believe was a result of the conditions on the basis of which late Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the instrument of accession with the Indian Union. In the Parliament, the Union Home Minister of India while announcing the abrogation of Article-370 also broke an-unexpected news to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, not only was the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir revoked but the state was also dismembered and humiliated into two separate union territories.
Although, the abrogation of Article-370 was more or less anticipated by the people due to a massively abnormal military build-up in Jammu and Kashmir around that time but the move of turning Jammu and Kashmir into two separate union territories was not fathomed by a vast majority here.
The State with the most powerful legislature in India with its own residuary powers no longer wields that power. The elected government is replaced by a bureaucratic set-up which is imported majorly from different states of India and is led by a former union minister as the second Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The administrative system has vastly become highly centralized, the local leaders of all hues were initially detained for a considerable amount of time right after August 5th 2019 which marked a suspension of any kind of political activity here. The political process brought to halt that day has remained limited ever since. While the Modi government seeks “an appropriate time” for the restoration of status of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, they have not shied away from promising an incentive of elections to the leaders here. The road leading to elections took Jammu and Kashmir through an exercise of delimitation; a process which major opposition parties claimed was motivated and carried out in a way which would directly benefit the BJP contestants. And now when elections were almost anticipated like the fall after summer the government once again maintained its ambiguity and excused the question of elections by citing the revision of electoral rolls. This once again doused off the flickering hopes of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
In recent frame of time, the emergence of Ghulam Nabi Azad on the local scene flanked by a flock of ex-Congress legislators from Jammu and Kashmir and BJP’s claims of making it past fifty assembly seats besides Chief Election Commissioner’s remark of “importing 25 lac” voters from outside has raised some eye brows on the electoral scene again. The repeated accusations of the opposition parties against Azad being backed by BJP, his polemic statements on Article-370 and his sharp attacks against Congress have all made this perception quite popular about him sending out a subliminal hint of possible elections. On the side notes, the National Conference is treading very carefully, the statements of its top leadership seem to be tailor made in order to not ruffle any unwanted feathers which might end up closing any possible doors of opportunities in near future for them. Going further in the same direction, some days back senior Congress leader, Tariq Hameed Karra made a startling claim, he tweeted that, “Reportedly 150 truck loads of election material that includes EVMs and other election related stationery has reached Jammu which was downloaded and stored in the Civil Secretariat during night time. Seems ECI is gearing up for a surprise regarding holding elections in J&K.”
The tweet indicated that election related stationary including EVMs have reached Jammu and have been stored in Civil Secretariat. Observing the trends and all these indicators, what lies next for the government is probably an election which would take everyone by surprise barring some “close friends” of the establishment who might already be taken into confidence. The upcoming assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will remain of dire importance for BJP than any other party. The saffron party is trying every trick in the book to get an unassailable edge similarly, the opposition parties particularly the regional parties might not be too excited about joining back into a relatively disempowered legislative assembly but the token of restoration of a major democratic exercise shall keep them interested in it.
At a time when the major regional parties are battered with desertions, the announcement of elections might weigh in on BJP’s favour. The enigma would continue as the government once again is gearing up for another magical surprise for Jammu and Kashmir. Like the midnight dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and signatures on bills of revocation of Article-370, it won’t be surprising if the government announces midnight elections in coming future while catching most of the stakeholders in the fray off guard.
Freelance Columnist from Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir.
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