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Politics of poll boycott

As the state is in the thick of parliamentary elections, some voices are being raised from certain quarters asking separatists to end poll boycott. They argue that the politics of boycott ultimately benefits the anti-Kashmir parties mainly BJP. We do not know how the pro boycott leadership must be viewing such calls but there seems some merit in the calls for end to poll boycott. It is not just a call from interested political sections but a view generally held by majority of the common people. There are certain sections within separatists as well who privately admit that politics of boycott has a negative effect on what they call freedom movement.

They say that the call for boycott does not get the required response that would invite the international attention. Syed Ali Geelani, who is the main proponent of boycott politics, bases his argument on “India sells peoples’ participation in elections as their will to accept sovereignty and authority of India to the outside world”. The argument is not out of place completely. But over the past some years, government of India seems to have lost on this count. Kashmir being an issue is not restricted now to the separatists only. Even the parties who come through electoral politics are no less advocates of Kashmir dispute. National Conference and PDP, main beneficiaries of poll politics, have been raising Kashmir issue as vociferously as separatists. Those are the bygone days when mention of Kashmir as an issue in the Assembly would invite constitutional wrath for a member. We remember when the whole House rose against a Jamaat-e-Islami member—Ali Mohammad Dar—in 1974 for calling Kashmir a disputed issue. Now a chief minister (Omar Abdullah did it when he was in office), leader of the opposition (Mahbooba Mufti as opposition leader) and independent legislator (Engineer Rasheed) calling for resolution of Kashmir issue on the floor of the House now. There are no brow-beats and anger being raised from any side. Importantly, the armed separatist movement, which brought Kashmir issue out of cold store and got at the top of the list of world disputes, was started after decades of poll participation. It was rather run by those very leaders and parties which earlier had been part of Indian political system. Syed Ali Geelani and Abdul Gani Lone (late) had remained part of pro India politics. That little came in their way in pleading Kashmir case.

The question to ponder over is what we get from boycott. It, in turn, has left open spaces in public and societal life mostly to thugs and hoodlums. Dreaded Ikhwanis Kuka Parray Javaid Shah, Naba Azad and Papa Kishtwari, who were known for their murderous activities, became the leaders. They were adopted by National Conference.

Kuka Parray became the member of Legislative assembly and was being addressed as ‘honourable’ member. It is absence of genuine people that brought them into public life. It is nature’s rule that absence of good people in public life is bound to leave space for the unwanted. It cannot be reversed by protests or press notes. The anti social elements could occupy space only when given. When genuine people would choose to stay away, illegitimates would take it as field day. Give people the choice, you will find them on the right side. Even Islam ordains on good people to take responsibility to hold back bad people from public life. It is quite necessary for all the stake-holders to rethink their strategy, and leave no space for anti social elements.