Polls for domination of political space in Kashmir

When it comes to the conduct of elections in Jammu & Kashmir, the credibility of balloting remains the core issue and it more so after central government’s last year’s August 5 moves on erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state that reduced it to a union territory without  special status. Though central government did not show any concern for the credibility of municipal and panchayat elections even after traditional mainstream parties like National Conference, PDP, Peoples Conference and many other such smaller parties choose to stay away from these elections in the year 2018, but the concern for credibility of elections was expected to be the top concern for any maiden election exercise after last year’s August 5 moves on erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state. While the people expected the central government  to embark on a plan of elections to the new assembly after the return of statehood to Jammu & Kashmir as promised by the Prime Minister and Home Minister on the floor of both the houses of parliament, the announcement of the creation of DDC territorial constituencies  without consultation , consent and approval of the mainstream parties sent out a message that credibility of any election exercises is not a concern for the central government even after last year’s August 5 moves in Jammu & Kashmir. After the announcement of the election schedule the government started the election process with discrimination in the security of the poll contestants on the grounds of their political affiliation as the contestants of the political party in power at the centre and it’s proxies in Jammu & Kashmir were allowed to walk free in their concerned areas but the contestants of the opposition parties were pushed into security concentration camps in hired hotels and were not allowed to move freely for campaigning in their concerned areas. Ironically in remote villages of Kashmir valley the public address system of mosques was used for announcing the distribution of the Kisan Credit Cards and special concessions in pending arrears of power bills just to persuade the people to participate in the election rallies of central BJP leaders but the BJP workers only collected applications from the people who joined their election rallies and the promise of Kisan Credit Cards and concession in arrears of pending power bills  disappointed the people as usual at BJP’s election rallies in remote villages.

While the election authorities had to take note of such brazen violations of the model code of conduct, the action was not taken even after the opposition parties formally wrote to election commission about the partial conduct of the authorities connected directly and indirectly with the conduct and supervision of the election process. Election authorities’ not taking note of the complaints of the violations of the model code of conduct shows that they themselves tend to be a party to the misconduct of the officials directly or indirectly connected with the election process. The ultimate motive as the actions of the government show is the domination of police space by the political party ruling at the centre and it’s proxies in Jammu and Kashmir.

One such brazen example was the conduct of an election rally in Setharan village of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district addressed by top BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain few days back. While the election authorities had to take note of such brazen violations of the model code of conduct, the action was not taken even after the opposition parties formally wrote to election commission about the partial conduct of the authorities connected directly and indirectly with the conduct and supervision of the election process. Election authorities’ not taking note of the complaints of the violations of the model code of conduct shows that they themselves tend to be a party to the misconduct of the officials directly or indirectly connected with the election process. The ultimate motive as the actions of the government show is the domination of police space by the political party ruling at the centre and it’s proxies in Jammu and Kashmir.

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