1. Unprecedented enthusiasm, the rural Jammu & Kashmir, the mountainous J&K, the remote J&K, the 15 assembly seats in the first round of the J&K polls, they have spoken, and spoken overwhelmingly, that they have started seeing the point that they are better off with Indian democracy than following the misleading propaganda of separatists. 72% of them turned out, from 61% last time, isn’t it a slap in the face of separatists, the so-called flag-bearers of the interests of the people of Jammu & Kashmir?
2. Like always, separatists have called for boycott and general strike during the polls. But there were several polling booths where people remained in long queues even after the polling time was over. Is the influence of separatists on the wane?
3. Same can be said for terrorist groups. The high turnout has proved quite frustrating for them it seems as more ‘warning posters’ by them cropped up today threatening voters not to participate. The day aptly made for the phrase ‘ballot over bullet’. Is the fear of terror not fearful enough now?
4. Also, like in past, the poll campaigning was not a taboo this time. People and politicians shed the stigma attached with campaigning for and participating in elections. It’s true the boycott activities were effectively handled. But the level of people’s participation tells its spontaneous. Is the thinking about the future of the next generation finally taking over the deleterious notions of worthless self-imposed isolation?
5. The state saw one of the worst floods this year. And there is anger on the way the state government of chief minister Omar Abdullah handled it. The state population also saw how the Indian government, Indian forces and Narendra Modi came forward to extend the helping hand when its elected government failed. Has this calamity affected the way the J&K electorate thinks about its position in the Union of India?
6. Since July, Narendra Modi has been regularly visiting J&K. Like the North-East of India, Narendra Modi regularly speaks about J&K, calling the state a priority focus. July, August, September, October, November – he has been there every month. He spent his Diwali in J&K. So far, he has acted on both the parameters – on delivering on ground and on building symbolism – the factors that can contribute to the positive swing of the electoral behaviour. Is Narendra Modi going to be able to do what he could do in May 2014 Lok Sabha polls and what he was able to do in the recently concluded Maharashtra and Haryana elections?
7. Shouldn’t we read the higher turnout as the pro-BJP votes in the state as we saw in the Lok Sabha and in Maharashtra and Haryana elections?
8. The pre-poll projections have written off Congress and National Conference, the ruling Combine which recently split, in these polls. The seat projection for them is around 10-15 seats while BJP is projected to win around 30 seats. PDP is expected to emerge as the largest party, but short of majority. So, the pre-poll projections make it a PDP Vs BJP battle in the 87-member assembly leaving the space for BJP to manoeuvre to arrange the numbers. Emergence of a nationalist party like BJP that has been talking about repealing the Article 370, even if keeping it away this time – doesn’t it sound death-knell for separatist politicians and their agenda?
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/