The boycott of Municipal elections has thrown up a new challenge before the people of Kashmir. The boycott squarely helped the pro-Hindu BJP to capture most of the Municipal institutions directly or indirectly. The emergence of the BJP on the valley’s political horizon has given rise to a serious debate in a section public circle and on social media whether boycott of elections should be the pat of the ongoing resistance movement against India. The separatist have been calling for boycott of elections since 1989 when the gun made its way into Kashmir to challenge Indian rule. Though majority of the population do go by the boycott call, however, section of people affiliated to pro India political groups have been using their right to vote religiously on given occasions. This time, however, two main pro India parties—National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)—too went for boycott of the elections. It is, in fact, boycott by these parties that helped BJP take hold of Municipal institutions in Kashmir. Some advocates of electoral politics say that boycott is no more an option now. They argue that in the changing situation, boycott has caused more damage than serving any purpose. They say that in the absence of good people, it is natural corollary that bad people occupy positions of power. The emergence of the BJP and its allied groups is the outcome of boycott politics. It is quite necessary to fight on this front too to keep unwanted groups away. The argument the advocates of boycott put forward is that the participation of people in the elections is helping government of India internationally as the world sees it as peoples’ faith in Indian system. But a section among them too is now confused in the aftermath of Municipal election boycott. They apprehend that if the people remained away from assembly elections in the same way, the BJP would capitalize it in its favor to the hilt. The understanding in the BJP too is the same.
People privy to the BJP’s new thinking do affirm that the party is eying to win Kashmir through boycott. BJP has already carved out a constituency of allies like Sajjad Lone’s Peoples’ Conference (PC) in the valley. Though the PC’s influence is strictly restricted to some pockets of north Kashmir only, however, the party’s Mayoral win in Srinagar has given it a great push towards extending its base in the city. But the question is whether supporting PDP and NC in elections is any option to keep BJP away. The BJP, in fact, owes its emergence to political power in the state to the PDP. The party had been ruling the state in coalition with the PDP till June before it pulled the rugs under feet of Mahbooba Mufti. In 2014 assembly elections, Mahbooba raised a slogan that if people of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to keep BJP away, they should vote for the PDP. But after the elections, PDP joined hands with same party which they fought against in the elections. The story of National Conference is no different. NC is the first party to have shaken hands with the BJP. Omar Abdullah was a minister in Vajpayee government between 1999 and 2004.
National Conference expelled Saifuddin Soz from the party for voting against Vajpayee’s government which led to its fall on April 17, 1999. In political conduct, one sees little difference among BJP, NC, PDP, Congress and others. How would voting for NC or PDP help? After the elections these parties have again to ally with the BJP and its allies to form the government. This has put a common man in a very precarious position as how to behave in the elections.