Kashmir Writes Against Boycott Politics19 April 2011
Srinagar: As the 13-phase panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir are in progress and the voter turn-out in trouble torn Kashmir valley in last two or three phases conducted so for has been unexpectedly massive, the intellectuals have, of late, started writing against boycott politics. The vernacular news papers from Kashmir, for last couple of days , have been publishing opinion peaces, editorials and features of well known authors negating the boycott politics which, of course, is being rejected by the people for obvious reasons. The writers have also been advising both government and the separatists not to do politics on peoples participation in Panchayat elections. “......There is no need to damn all those who cast their votes as traitors. Their participation no way is a referendum and it can't be. Besieged with needs and faced with the challenges of a mundane life, here is an individual who steps out to stand in the queue. He is unmindful of the politics done behind the scene. All he knows and all he means is his own livelihood and the means to sustain it. Well, that must not negate some bigger facts at a much bigger level. If India sells this poll participation to the world outside as Kashmiris' expression of trust in India, that is not the fault of a poor voter. Then in a reverse situation they must accept the flip side too when the same voters turn demonstrators and demand liberation from them. The same way if separatists interpret a total shutdown as Kashmir's vote in their favour, they too are mistaken. Then they will have to accept this poll participation as a mark of rejection against their populist politics. The problem does not lie in the announcement and in the participation of polls, but in our approach towards defining this exercise. Making it a point of ego on either side pushes us to make fallacious conclusions. The whole trouble erupts when we repeat the error of blocking a fluidity. Objectifying a feeling of subjective nature can't empower us to read the situation on merit . Wasting energy on boycott appeals amid an 80% participation is like forbidding a child not to taste the fudge when we already know he has had it. Better we read the things silently than to react to anything and everything small or significant. Why thrust betrayal on people when they say they don't betray, they only vote”. It seems good sense has started prevailing on intellectual class in Kashmir though latter than the voters. The Electorate in Kashmir has realized that the boycott of elections-whatsoever-hardly makes any impact on election results or for that matter on formation of governments or local bodies. This realization has dawn in after tasting the bitter experience of hooligans’ occupying the available space due to boycott. Immaterial of whether participation in elections is less or large winners occupy the seat of power- a reality that can’t be wished away. This made the people to realize the futility of the boycotting elections- though on diplomatic front –the boycott politics has some degree of impact at the earlier stage which vanished in thin air with preceding times and ever changing political scenario. This realization, of late, made them rue their decision to boycott polls. Boycotts meant not only that people did not come out to vote but also that the saner elements in the society did not contest elections. Majority of them boycotted in support of the movement and some also because of fear for their life. “The darker side of these poll boycotts was that people who came to power were largely unacceptable to the society. Most of them were erstwhile power hungry mainstream politicians or their followers. Many of the elected so called representatives were habitual opportunists with dubious characters, who keep shifting their loyalties every now and then. It is no secret that the boycotts helped powerful politicians to manipulate elections through an innovative idea of mobile voters. It was tragic that the renegade militants who had let a reign of terror loose on the people won elections and came to power. This enabled them to save themselves from being held accountable for the heinous crimes against humanity, which, they had committed in broad day light. This also enabled their masters to pay them back. The extent to which people had to suffer because of these false representatives outweighed its benefits to the freedom struggle. It is not possible in modern times for people to stay aloof from the systems that govern their day to day life. Apart from other requirements of life, people have social and economic needs, which cannot be fulfilled by a separatist cause or a freedom movement. Food, water, electricity, roads, communications, travel, trade, jobs etc. are the needs which determine our physical, social and economic wellbeing. It is not possible for any movement to survive in a society which lacks these basic things as they are the primary requirements of life in present times” writes Wahid Ahmad.