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After the parliamentary polls

Political parties in Kashmir yet to recover from shock of respective defeats
01:49 AM Jun 12, 2024 IST | ZAHOOR MALIK
after the parliamentary polls

It is a week since the Lok Sabha (parliamentary)   poll results were declared. In Kashmir, the political parties are yet to recover from the shock of their respective defeats. The premier political party, National Conference (NC), won two seats.


But the defeat of former Chief Minister and party Vice President Omar Abdullah in Baramulla made the victories in Srinagar and Anantnag-Rajouri constituencies look almost tasteless for the party. PDP, which was hoping to surprise the opponents in Anantnag-Rajouri and Srinagar could not succeed in doing so and even party President Mehbooba Mufti also lost the election. The introduction of political youngsters by PDP in campaigning may have created some  kind of effect on social media but not on the ground so much.


Apni Party, People’s Conference and Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) too could not create any magic in elections. The Apni Party and DPAP candidates lost security deposits. If the parliamentary polls were really a semi- final before the final (assembly polls) as was being described by some senior leaders, then the jailed Awami Ittihad Party (AIP) leader Er Abdul Rashid got the man of the match award with his surprise victory from Baramulla.


Amid this scenario, Omar Abdullah is now trying to break the gloomy silence with his social media posts and interviews. In a latest interview he said that he will not contest the coming assembly polls. In fact by saying so he did not reveal something new. The NC leader was saying this in the  past and he is saying it  now also. The only and the major difference is that in past Omar Abdullah was very much sure to gain entry into parliament by winning the recent Lok Sabha polls. And now he is saying so after losing the elections.


In the interview, Omar said he does not want to humiliate himself by going to a Union Territory assembly. He, however , added that  he would lead NC’s assembly elections campaign. It is obvious that the assembly polls will be held even without him. However, his non-participation can affect to some extent the overall interest, curiosity and suspense in polls and  it can also have effects on NC as a contesting party. Who will be the party’s chief ministerial candidate in his absence?


The party cannot afford going to polls without a chief ministerial candidate. More so when new and surprising waves have started entering and making a clean sweep in the electoral arena. This  was evident from the victory of  Er Rashid in parliamentary polls. Till recently a very confident political party, National Conference is now seemingly being gripped by the fear of unknown in electoral politics and the fear of likes of Er Rashid joining the assembly polls to make things difficult for it.  Omar has intentionally or unintentionally tried to respond to such fears.


In absence of Omar, will  the party President Dr Farooq Abdullah be the chief ministerial candidate? He did not contest the recent Lok Sabha polls due to health reasons. When Dr Farooq Abdullah did not contest the parliamentary polls on health grounds, will he then take part in assembly polls? In past he used to say that he would take part in assembly polls even if Jammu and Kashmir continued to be a union territory and not a state.


Dr Farooq Abdullah in fact advised Omar to reconsider his decision of not contesting. Going by the tradition in NC, no leader outside the Abdullah family has been a chief minister during their party rule. There seems no possibility of the party breaking its decades long tradition now. So either Dr Farooq Abdullah or Omar Abdullah has to take the responsibility in assembly polls.

This is for the first time that Omar Abdullah lost a Lok Sabha election and that too when he was sure to win hands down. In a bid to defeat the People’s Conference President Sajad Gani Lone, he had decided to contest from Baramulla instead of Srinagar constituency, wherefrom he used to contest in the past and win. But the surprise pro- Er Rashid wave shocked him and his party and led to his defeat.

This surprise element for NC has not ended with Lok Sabha polls. It is very much there for the assembly polls as well. Encouraged by the impressive victory of Er Rashid, his party Awami Ittihad Party ( AIP) recently decided to launch a membership drive  to prepare for assembly polls. The party is hoping to repeat the Lok sabha performance in assembly elections as well.

“We were not sure whether Er Rashid sahab will be allowed to contest the parliamentary polls. If we knew he would be permitted, we would have contested the other two constituencies in Kashmir and won those as well,” said an AIP leader. But can the party really repeat the performance of Lok Sabha polls in assembly elections also? Some political circles believe that it is not that easy since there is vast difference between assembly and parliamentary polls. According to them it was a sympathy wave in favour of Er Rahid with a hope among his supporters that he may be released after his victory.

Prior to Er Rashid wave, National Conference was not only optimistic to win all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir but also most seats in assembly polls in Kashmir whenever elections are held. Now NC is not sure what the scenario will be like in assembly polls since there are reports that some more parties may join the electoral fray.

According to NC leadership the BJP leadership is making every effort to cause division of votes in Kashmir. “ The division is aimed at damaging NC’s chances of victory in assembly polls,” they said.  Some political observers believe that despite its like minded parties losing Lok Sabha polls in Kashmir, BJP will not leave its efforts to form next government in J&K after assembly polls. For that it will try to repeat the 2014 assembly poll performance in Jammu and keep on exploring options in Kashmir, they added. 

Author is senior editor, Greater Kashmir