Elections 2024 , Jammu needs to display political maturity

By Sahil Mahajan

The political parties in Jammu and  Kashmir have got the most important  task of their politics  for the year 2024 . The Election Commission of India has  announced that it is committed to hold the Assembly polls in this Union Territory, and laid out a roadmap  of the much-awaited polls , however keeping the schedule subject to the security situation. But nevertheless , it is clear that  the Assembly elections have appeared on the  horizon. This is a major development, but  with regard to Jammu and Kashmir it comes with a series of challenges and opportunities . And the most of the work is to be done by the political groups, national or regional.

As the matrix of the polls has started unfolding after the ECI’s visit to Srinagar and Jammu , which concluded on Wednesday , the biggest challenge for the political parties is to prove that they can generate a narrative which would fortify the integrity  of Jammu and Kashmir and that of the nation . Their narrative would give idea as to what all they want to do , and address issues of the people. This is a crucial challenge that they cannot escape but to face it.

In the immediate context, there are opportunities in plenty for the political groups in J&K. They have to demonstrate that they have the roadmap not only to garner maximum number of votes  but also to translate them into instill a new confidence . The time of complaints and hyperbolic speeches and delusions is over . Today, the people of this territory have become wiser and they have something  more to  mull before deciding whom to vote . They have seen  the life before and after the abrogation of Article 370. The changes have been impressive . Kashmir has seen a lot of transformation .

It is the moment to discuss everything on the merits and demerits in a dispassionate  manner  Political parties  cannot superimpose their narratives on the ground realities , and that’s why they will  have to  be more realistic and pragmatic. 

The Election Commission  also faces an uphill task in holding the  elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It will have to ensure level playing field for all political  parties and candidates, and more importantly it needs to maintain  and exhibit its credibility in the elections. Though it has not said anything extraordinary about the J&K polls except that it has not delayed the polls, and it would also not like to continue with the political vacuum, but what it forgot to tell is that it will be under watch of the people of J&K, country  and even the international community how it conducts polls in this part of the country. The abrogation of Article 370, instead of reducing the political and geo-strategic importance of J&K has enhanced it. In earlier elections, the state had to contend with the issues  like threat to  peace by the external  and internal forces . Pakistan would always throw spanner  and  separatists issued poll boycott calls. The  tragic reality was manifested through acts of violence and terror. Now, all these threats have  come down, but J&K is in different mood. 

As the time for the polls will draw closer,  the differences between the past and this election will become more obvious. There is a change in the political landscape and the people, who are looking forward to a stable J&K, in terms of the continuation of development  and  pinning their hopes on the parties that can bring them  jobs  and safe environment. 

It is a fact that the much of the focus will remain on  Kashmir Valley, however Jammu will have to justify whether it can be a significant player in the electoral changes that have been  made. It is having 43 seats, only four short of Valley’s 47. How political parties, particularly BJP that claims to have empowered Jammu  politically, carry its narrative in  the region.

At the moment, it’s time to keep fingers crossed about the elections, role of political parties and outcome. Jammu’s future is at stake.

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