Intro: The J&K Assembly elections result should be read as the result of the state as a whole and political parties should use this opportunity to end the era of regional discrimination by working for J&K.
After the declaration of Assembly elections results in Jammu and Kashmir, the speculations about the future government are ruling the media space. At the same time, the Kashmir centric activism is also lobbying to keep superiority of their region intact over other two regions of the state; Jammu and Ladakh. Kashmiri media is suggestive accordingly, and Kashmiri opinion makers, across the world, are threatening of ‘alienating Kashmiri Muslims from New Delhi’ if power somehow rolls out off the Valley. Victim of these opinion makers, a small population of Kashmiris, are suffering from superiority complex and are out into the streets of Srinagar for demanding a Kashmir centric coalition. In all of their efforts, Kashmiri opinion makers and lobbyists are discarding the principles of democracy by becoming regional and are neglecting the outcomes of the Assembly elections.
There is no clear verdict in favor of any political party in the state. PDP, with 28 seats in its fold, has emerged the largest party whereas with 23 percent vote share, BJP has emerged the first choice of the people of the state. Both of these parties fought elections against the misrule of the NC-Congress coalition and the election verdict should be read accordingly. One can clearly see through the uprooting of the incumbent coalition in these election results.
In this changed era, when people voted keeping good governance and developmental politics in mind, unethical efforts of the lobbyist of imbalanced regional influence of Kashmir can become obstacle in the path of the regional harmony. It’ll surely have adverse effect on the democratic belief of the people if this time also regional and communal lobbyists of Kashmir Valley succeed in their efforts of establishing supremacy over Jammu and Ladakh. Regional opinion makers and lobbyists of the Valley tend to have an effect on the regional politics and thereby influence overall political experience of the people of the state. The effect of Kashmiri regionalism and superiority is seen easily in the delimitation rule of the state (The delimitation rule, which applies across the nation, is not applied in J&K due to Article 370 and delimitation is frozen till 2026). Apart from inequitable regional imbalances in government jobs and fund allocations, regional discrimination is clear in the delimitation rule too. It’s an undisputed fact that unjust delimitation rule of the state is tilted towards Valley. Total population (according to 2011 census) of Jammu region is 69,07,623 as compared to Kashmir Valley’s 53,50,811 (Source: Ministry of Home Affairs; http://mha.nic.in/more3). Clearly, 16 Lakhs more people live in Jammu and yet the numbers of total assembly seats of the region are lesser than Kashmir Valley. Kashmir consists of 46 assembly seats and Jammu has only 37 assembly seats.
From half a century, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have seen enough of regional discrimination resulting from propagandas of regional opinion makers. Fueling regional aspiration at the cost of mutual harmony and equal opportunity for political gain did not lead the state anywhere. Instead of doing regional analysis, now, the J&K Assembly elections result should be read as the result of the state as a whole and political parties should use this opportunity to end the era of regional discrimination and calculations by working for whole of Jammu and Kashmir. An era of ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ should be considered as a new beginning now.
Arvind ( The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Centre, New Delhi)