SRINAGAR: With nothing new to offer, the pro-India political parties in fray for the Lok Sabha elections are trying to cash in on each others’ ‘underperformance’ or ‘shoddy past’, instead of highlighting their own performance or conduct during years in power, to lure the voters.
As the election campaigning is catching pace, the ruling National Conference and its bête-noire, People’s Democratic Party (PDP)—the two major parties competing for three seats for Kashmir Valley in the Indian parliament—appear to be exploiting the ‘dark spots’ in others’ political career to gain votes.
In almost all rallies staged by PDP in the past weeks, its argument to appease voters has revolved around the ‘misdoings’ of NC and Congress.
On Thursday last, for instance, PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed held a rally in Pahalgam in South Kashmir, and the focus of his speech remained the role NC and Congress played in “making Kashmir insecure.”
The same day, his daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting for the South Kashmir seat, held a rally in Kokernag area of district Anantnag. And her speech too focused mostly on the ‘(mis)doings’ of NC.
“It was on the directions of NC that Congress-led UPA government hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru,” Mehbooba told her ‘supporters’, urging them to vote out NC and Congress.
In a separate rally held at Devsar, Kulgam on Tuesday, the thrust of Mehbooba’s speech was NC and its performance.
“NC forced Mohammad Yousuf Shah to become Syed Salahuddin,” she said, and supplemented it with mention of the scams that unfolded during NC-Congress regime. “Right from Shopian double rape and murder, 120 killings in 2010, Haji Yousuf’s death, Afzal Guru’s hanging, backdoor appointments, BOPEE, drug scam, cricket scam, land grab scam, retired officers’ re-employment scam etc., speak about the cruelty of this regime they unleashed upon people.”
Noticeably, NC too is banking on PDP’s ‘flaws’ rather than trying to cash in on the performance of its sitting Members of Parliament (MP). All three MPs from the Valley—Farooq Abdullah, Mehboob Beigh, Shareef-ud-Din Shariq—belong to NC. Also, the party doesn’t appear keen on making its performance, as coalition partner in the state government, a ground for seeking votes.
For NC, an unconfirmed alliance between PDP and BJP seems to be the strongest point to gain votes. NC’s president Farooq Abdullah made mention of the PDP’s so-called pre-poll alliance with BJP early last month in a statement, and ever since it has been common feature of the election speeches made by Farooq and his son Omar Abdullah, who is also the state’s Chief Minister.
“Vote for PDP amounts to supporting Narendra Modi,” Omar had said in a rally in Rajouri.
The CM has already made it clear that he won’t talk of his performance during the Lok Sabha elections, but he hasn’t been talking much either about the performance of his father who is two time MP from Srinagar.
The father-son duo had kick-started their election campaigning late last month by holding a joint rally in central Budgam district. But their collective vote-seeking argument was that “voting Modi into power will be a disaster.”
Later, the focus of NC shifted to Article 370, which the BJP, if voted to power, is threatening to abrogate. NC again accused PDP of supporting BJP’s endeavor to dilute the Article.
The parties’ list-of-promises have already exposed that they have nothing new to offer to the electorate in the Valley. NC promises are a more or less a repeat of what it had said before elections in 2008 and ’09; and only significant section in PDP’s ‘mission document’ is assurance to work for “bringing all political formations at New Delhi together to develop a Common Minimum Programme on Kashmir resolution.”
Whether their tactics of banking on others’ flaws, in absence of credible pledges bear fruit, remains to be seen.