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Understanding votes

Now that the results are out for the recently concluded DDC elections both the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration and BJP seem to be in a celebratory mood. No doubt that the elections saw a higher turnout than last time, particularly in Kashmir valley and were held in a violence-free atmosphere but celebrating a victory could be a moment of hubris for both, the BJP as well as the PAGD. For once despite the claim of holding on to Jammu, the BJP has just about managed to cross 70 mark out of 140 seats in Jammu division losing crucial segments to the Congress and the PAGD. A couple of years back, the Congress and other J&K regional parties were facing a threat of completely losing out to the BJP. The BJP has also managed to open its account in Kashmir valley bagging three seats. While PAGD may claim that they have arrested BJP’s rise in Kashmir, the truth is the BJP under PM Modi and Amit Shah is a different political entity. For the duo, every election is an all or nothing battle. From being the party that no one wanted to touch a few years back, BJP in this new political experiment is a stakeholder albeit a small one but one can be sure that the party will back its three Musketeers to the hilt, and they will yield far more power and clout than many winners out together. For PAGD, which has clearly led the polls, the reality may be slightly different from what they may want to believe. Most of the vote for PAGD may well be against the BJP than for the PAGD and at many places people voted their local faces regardless of the party he or she represented. Had any other formation been available people may have voted for it as well. The higher turnout speaks for the fact that howsoever volatile the political situation in Kashmir may be, the people are still looking forward to those who can resolve their basic issues of everyday life. Roads, water, electricity, et al – issues like these always touch people and anyone promising to fulfil these basic requirements can bring people out to vote. Generally, those who voted in the DDC polls said they came out only because they had a frail hope that the candidates who are contesting the polls may be able to fix their day-to-day issues. Fixing a potholed road, installing garbage bins, getting an old electricity pole replaced – many candidates are asking for votes promising they will fix issues like these. Several voters who came out said they wanted to elect people who can solve basic problems and bigger issues like restoration of special status should be left for assembly and parliamentary elections. Those in the ivory towers who believe that PAGD is riding high on a sympathy wave because of ‘witch hunt’ against their leaders by the Centre, it’s a good time to take a deep breath, take a step back and face the reality. The street has its own compulsions and hence the vote.