JAMMU: The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), both Kashmir-centric parties, boycotted the elections to the panchayats and urban local bodies (ULBs). The NC took the lead and the PDP followed suit blindly following its apparent ‘benefactor’ of all times!
There was apparently little thought given to the long term implications of following the NC. It was a trap and a bait which the PDP took hook, line and sinker, choosing to ignore its wise man, Muzaffar Beigh, who has openly admitted that it was a wrong move.
What was the impact of the boycott on the PDP in the short term and in the long term? Well, for a beginning, it lost an opportunity to galvanise its supporters and go to them. This was a golden chance, even if challenging, to reach out to them.
Its leadership, particularly Mehbooba Mufti, lost the nerve to put her party leaders before the angry electors. In following the NC, its bete noire, earlier, now and in future, the party was just clutching at straw and holding on to an alibi. The defence of Article 35-A!
The credits for initiating a boycott went entirely to the NC and the PDP just seemed like a meek follower, bereft of any originality. At the national level, the phrase used is to act as B team of a sworn rival. The PDP did act perfectly like the B team of the NC which played brilliant politics undermining the former in every way!
Now what? It is an interesting how things are unfolding in the Legislative Council which is virtually asleep. The elections to the panchayats and ULBs means the six MLCs from these bodies can now be nominated soon. This will happen any day and any time in the next few days we will know the names of the people who will be our legislators.
The question to be asked is which is the party which gains the most? Conversely, also the party which stands to lose the most? Ironically, it is the BJP
which is likely to gain the most in the Legislative Council. Its erstwhile coalition partner, the PDP, loses the most it appears. How and why?
It is likely that the BJP will be able to make at least three more of its cadres as MLCs, members of the Upper House. That is the very least that can happen and take its strength in the council to 14! That’s a great march ahead for the BJP which almost never had any MLCs earlier than 2015!
This will remain the largest since block of any party in the council for some years to come. These legislators, if used effectively, can create new dynamics
in legislation where they can stall the Upper House if they so choose. If they are so directed by their leadership to stall some legislation.
The number of the PDP MLCs is set to go down and replenishing the numbers will be a tough task, unlikely to be possible after a reduced number of MLAs after the next assembly elections. From 2002 to 2018, the PDP had an important role in both chambers of the legislature. It is all set to see itself in a role where re-inventing itself for redemption is the only possible way out of wilderness.
It doesn’t look like there will be simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and the state assembly. This is a distinct possibility now for the Centre to hold elections twice, and at leisure, at a time of its choosing. The chances of assembly elections in the near future are receding by the day.
Any possible kinetic military response to Pakistan in the near future, large scale operations against terrorists in Kashmir and other related issues can be reasons enough to see no new MLAs in a hurry. Of course, there can be hue and cry on this and political parties will make noises.
Who cares? If the Narendra Modi government is voted back in power, it is unlikely to have any elections in a hurry. If it is voted out at the Centre, the new government may find new priorities, least of which can be trying to rush through assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The cold in the state may vanish as March arrives soon but a march to ending the present absence of elected representatives at one level is likely to continue. So it seems.