When Kashmir went to the polls

| Updated on April 12, 2019 Published on April 12, 2019

Glimpses of how the state prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections

In the last five years, Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has seen several ups and downs.

First, it saw an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in March 2015. It also witnessed the end of the coalition in June 2018, pushing the state towards governor’s rule. Apart from the many clashes between civilians and the paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir, the region made headlines for a terrorist attack in Uri in 2016, and the more recent strike in Pulwama — on February 14, 2019 — in which over 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel lost their lives.

These developments have made Kashmir — and the special status it has under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution — a poll issue for several political parties. Chief among them is the BJP, which garnered attention when the party symbol — the saffron lotus — was coloured green for campaigns in J&K. Former coalition partner PDP has castigated the ruling party at the Centre for including the abrogation of Article 370 in its election manifesto. Meanwhile, the Congress and the National Conference — the latter led by former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah — have sealed an alliance for three of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The first phase of polling on April 11 saw a turnout of over 54 per cent till 5 pm, in Jammu and Baramulla constituencies. There are four more phases — on April 18, 23, 29 and May 6.

While the parties fight it out at the hustings, the average Kashmiri, especially the young, desires peace and stability above all else. Education, employment and healthcare are the topmost concerns. It remains to be seen if these general elections can deliver any of that.

Nissar Ahmad

Published on April 12, 2019