J&K Lok Sabha polls as important as national, will silence questions or …. ?

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | March 29, 2024 IST

Arun Joshi

   The ongoing Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir along with the rest of the country are extraordinary , perhaps more than the Assembly  polls which are in suspended animation mode for the past over five years . There can be no comparison between the two elections, but given the situation in this Union Territory in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, the LS polls will throw new narratives and new direction for Kashmir and also determine attitude of Delhi, as also how it is viewed internationally thereafter.

The final result of the five Lok Sabha seats, under contest in Jammu and Kashmir, along with 538 in the rest of the country, will have lasting impact on the national narrative as it would also be a referendum on Article 370 that has been abrogated. The outcome will be determined by the atmosphere and the number of votes each party will get, though, in the ultimate run who wins hoe many seats will matter the most.

This is the first major election in Jammu and Kashmir since 2019 general elections, when National Conference had won all the three seats in the Valley, and BJP on the rest of three. That time Jammu and Kashmir was a state and Ladakh region was a part of it .Now  J&K and Ladakh are two separate union  territories – J&K with five LS seats and Ladakh  with just one . And this is also major election since the abrogation of Article 370, which has been termed as a watershed moment and decision in the history of the nation and Jammu and Kashmir.

There is a perception that the Article 370 was all about J&K, its semi sovereignty, parallel symbols, flag and constitution and its permanent residents having unprecedented and unique privileges and rights – exclusive claim to land and jobs. The non-permanent representatives were out of these benefits .The abrogation of Article 370 changed all that. Noe the people from the rest of the country are as entitled to everything in Jammu and Kashmir as the natives. In fact, all the distinctions between J&K permanent residents and citizens of other states and UTs in the country.  This will redefine the campaign.

On March 16, when Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar skipped the simultaneous schedule of the Assembly polls alongside Lok Sabha schedule, there was a lot of disappointment among all parties barring BJP. The BJP has its own reasons to find solace in the constant deferment of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, for it is bound by what the high command says and then it has its own internal issues in not facing the electorate.

As the things are progressing in Lok Sabha poll process, several issues have surfaced which have made it very important for the whole of the nation. Of course the period prior to the abrogation of Article 370 and thereafter has come into play as a campaign issue. Both sides those who favour and oppose the abrogation of Article 370 are playing the issue to hilt. The BJP is overplaying improvement in the situation in Kashmir, and all the development that has taken place in the valley. The greater focus is how the improved situation has freed Kashmiris of the stranglehold of terrorism that had impacted the normal life in most disturbing fashion. . Terrorism had chained all aspects of life- freedom of movement, schooling and work places had become hostage to acts of violence and  a separatist narrative . This is a giant shift in the scenario that BJP is playing in its   , trying to connect with the safe environment reality to its work  of abrogating Article 370 .

The opposition, especially in the Valley, comprising National Conference and PDP, are challenging the BJP’s narrative. They point out that this normalcy is driven by the fear of security forces, as the youth  and  others  who dare to  speak to authorities are booked and placed in prisons..

On June 4, when the results will be out – the observers will watch other states/UTs in terms how many seats have been won by which party, but in J&K, the focus would be on how it has sent a message – and this electoral message will come from the Valley, which is at the center of the contest .That’s what will make the whole election in J&K as significant as the national one. It will either settle certain. Questions in the post-Article 370 era or resurface. June 4 holds the key.


Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com

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