Kashmir

Srinagarís 7% turnout means a rejection of everything ëIndianí


SRINAGAR, April 10 (INP): Mehbooba Mufti, chief minister of the troubled occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir, has made a huge political statement by calling for the cancellation of the election in Anantnag on April 12. It is a seat she vacated as Member of Parliament and her brother, Tasaduq Mufti, is the PDP candidate.

Mehboobaís call comes on the heels of the violent by poll in Srinagar where eight people were killed and only 7% cast their vote. 

The meagre turnout, by no means, reflects a popular mandate and many would argue that the Srinagar election should be declared null and void, for the winner ñ with a little over 3.5% of the vote ñ is clearly not the peopleís representative.

If Anantnag votes ñ as it is slated to in less than 48 hours ñ the percentage could even be lower because it falls in South Kashmir, the region which was rocked with unprecedented protests in July last year after the killing of commander Burhan Wani. South Kashmir is ñ was would be more appropriate ñ the PDPís stronghold and a single-digit voter turnout would be a direct referendum on Mehboobaís legitimacy as chief minister.
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The large scale protests on Sunday can be interpreted as a rejection of the democratic process by the Kashmiris. To be more precise, it is a rejection of mainstream politics, including of the National Conference (NC), which once towered over the state through its founder, Sheikh Abdullah and subsequently through Farooq Abdullah, who was in the fray in the by poll.

The frightening away of party cadre ñ which could well be repeated in Anantnag ñ is a serious development. The village-level worker is the best political thermometer and officials in Srinagar ñ who do not wish to be named ñ reveal that the workers did not want to come out in defiance of the boycott call issued by the separatists. They did not want to be ëmarkedí and so, preferred to lie under.

Former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted to say that heíd contested six elections in 20 years but ëínever seen this level of violence.íí Heís not completely off the mark.

Successive governments in New Delhi have interpreted large turnouts ñ like the one in 2014 ñ as a sign of normalcy; as Kashmiris embracing ëIndiaí. Will the government now analyse the 7.14% as a rejection of anything ëIndianí, the Times of India in an opinion questioned.

Whatever their final analysis, Mehbooba by asking for a postponement to the Anantnag election has only admitted that the ground situation is beyond the control of her government.

The Srinagar election has put a huge question mark on the democratic process and the separatists must certainly be feeling chuffed.

This is precisely the time for a serious rethink on Kashmir. It is the clearest wake-up call for the Narendra Modi-led government, the newspaper concluded.

INP/AH/SB

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