Intro: The high voter turnout this election signals people’s desire for change and good governance in Jammu and Kashmir. Undoubtedly, BJP will have a big role to play.
There have been many analyses about the high voting percentage in the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Despite terror calls and separatists attempt to stall voting process, the large turnout in the Valley was other than the celebration of the democratic process, a victory over terrorism and propagandists agenda. This election was also an initiation of building trust in the democracy across the state. People this time came out to vote and expressed their trust and thrust for democracy.
After Independence, people of J&K witnessed the rule of National Conference (NC) who flourished and ruled the state with the blessing of Congress. Left with limited choice, people had no option in the past other the NC which over a period of time deteriorated their enthusiasm for voting successively. During the last decade People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged in the Valley but it too failed to provide a political alternative in the state.
Unlike Indian Assembly, the J&K assembly term is of six years. In 2002 and 2008 both, NC had won elections on 28 assembly seats. First time PDP fought elections in 2002 and won 16 seats. In 2008, PDP’s tally rose to 21 seats. From 2002 to 2008, Congress and PDP combine ruled the state along with other independents. The tenure of 2008-2014 was ruled by Congress and NC.
Although terrorism in the Valley was lesser during this election but the threat and boycotts were no less than before. The desperation of the Pakistan too surfaced after the high turnout in first phase in the form of infiltration and terrorist attacks.
The speculations of the kind that separatists were supporting voting fearing BJP’s gain fall flat after the attempts of instigating fear among voters came to fore during voting in the first phase. It would be wrong to say that people of the Valley voted this high just to keep BJP out of power. In fact political pundits have analysed that for the first time in history, people of the Valley are hoping to get rid of Congress and NC. After all PDP is also guilty of the same political will. In other words, for the first time people of the Valley had an option.
Just like the Lok Sabha elections, BJP came in the focus of all the big players of the state since the first phase of Assembly elections. This time something crucial has changed. BJP has already won half battle as its presence has caused the voting pattern to change and has infused a new democratic spirit among the voters of the state. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has openly accepted that the PDP’s fight is with the BJP and there is no Congress or NC factor this time. These parties have visibly avoided direct attack on Narendra Modi and the leadership of BJP which political pundits consider as the right feelers to BJP from these parties. On the other hand, Prime minister has directly pointed at the leadership and the dynastic nature of these parties.
This time Assembly elections have made many democratic records of high turnout in the Valley. On December 23 all the speculations about the formation of next government will end. In the Jammu and Ladakh regions, BJP is hoping to score maximum. Patterns in the voting and the enthusiasm of the people of Valley during Modi’s rally are tell-tale signs for BJP. ‘Not without BJP if not BJP, is then emerging reality that will take shape on 23 December. This election is definately going to see the BJP in decisive role.
Arvind (The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Centre, New Delhi)