The Futility of Poll Deferment

The Futility of Poll Deferment

The abysmally low voter turn- out and the protests against the holding of the April Parliamentary  by polls in Srinagar that morphed into cyclical violence  and which exacted a death toll of eight victims has “compelled” the authorities to defer the Anantnag by polls. These were slated to be held on the 12th of this month.  Two broad interpretations can be made regarding the poll deferment. South Kashmir- since the eruption of wide and deep protests post Burhani Wani killing- can be said to be the centre of gravity of these protests; it might not be too accurate to state that in the rest of Kashmir, even though, deeply affected, the protests that accrued here were in the nature of spill over from South Kashmir. If then South Kashmir was the centre of gravity , and if there was violence and widespread protests in Srinagar on the poll day, what would happen in South Kashmir would be anybody’s guess. Overlaying this is the high probability that the PDP would not score well in these polls. In combination, these two factors appear to be the premises behind deferring the Anantnag by-poll.  But these factors or even assessments are merely the surface manifestation of profound causes. The authorities are mistaking effects for causes here. In the main , the protests that have engulfed Kashmir, in varying degrees of intensity and under different catalytic spurs pertain to the PDP’s alliance with the BJP. The saffron party and its agenda are totally unacceptable to Kashmiris. The footprint that the PDP gave the BJP in Kashmir has validated the fears of Kashmiris that something insidious is cooking. This adds an ingress to the extant conflict in Kashmir. The result is a mood of rejectionism among the people of Kashmir. This manifests itself in protests and boycott of the elections and other “mainstream” activities. While the “mainstream” has been rendered irrelevant, by and large, the mood of rejection has grown and held the imagination of Kashmiris. This, perhaps, is the natural effect and consequence of obstructionism, stonewalling and mere management of the conflict in and over Kashmir. What, given this structural condition and situation, would deferment of the Anantnag by-polls would serve is bizarre. The real question and issue is the conflict. Unless and until, a robust conflict resolution paradigm is devised and put in place, no amount of tinkering or management would do anything to alter the “ground” conditions in Kashmir. This is the reality; anything else is an optical illusion.

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