ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

V Nagendra RaoSubscribe to V Nagendra Rao

Jammu and Kashmir: Changed Political Scenario

The high voter turnout in the recent by-elections in Jammu and Kashmir indicates the increasing acceptance of democratic politics on the part of the citizenry. Mainstream parties who participated in these elections also took up issues that have long been considered separatist themes, i e, human rights violations, opening up of links with Pakistan, etc. At the same time, the dichotomy between elections for purposes of governance and those to resolve wider political grievances still remains.

Jammu and Kashmir : Electoral Politics in a Separatist Context

The 2004 parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir reaffirmed trends already in evidence since the 2002 assembly elections in the state. Despite the continued threat of militancy and the politics of separatism running a course parallel to electoral politics, the improved showing of the People's Democratic Party in the Kashmir Valley and the resurgence of the Congress in Jammu establishes two things. First, that issues relating to a Kashmiri identity have now found a space in the electoral agenda beyond an exclusive, separatist platform and, second, the politics of division in Jammu, either of religion, caste or tribe, as encouraged by the BJP and the National Conference, has been firmly rejected. It remains to be seen whether the centre, in an atmosphere of renewed optimism in the electoral process as several election surveys also revealed, will now attempt to seek some resolution of the long-standing Kashmir issue by involving more groups in the process.

National Conference of Jammu and Kashmir

The transformation of the role of the National Conference (NC) from a hegemonic actor to the single largest party of the state has to be located in the larger political context of the state in the last 15 years. This political context, defined by the contestation of legitimacy of mainstream politics on the one hand and the situation of armed militancy and separatism on the other had constricted the very nature of democratic politics. The relevance of the NC today extends beyond competitive regional politics. Its claim as the initiator of the tradition of the political movement in Kashmir and its contribution to the evolution of Kashmiri identity politics, assume importance in the contemporary situation of the state.
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