EVEN as the Lok Sabha elections are heading towards end, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is witnessing a controversy over the timing of the Legislative Assembly elections there. While many parties are accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of putting pressure on the Election Commission (EC) to delay the legislative polls, the BJP has asserted that it is willing for the elections even tomorrow morning. And even as this controversy continued, the people lined up for Lok Sabha polling in good numbers despite regular ceasefire violation by Pakistani forces killing or injuring people in the Indian territory. The authorities may feel encouraged to go for legislative polls, thanks to some favourable signs from the State. However, wisdom is in not rushing into a decision in that regard. It would be in the State’s best interest to make a proper assessment of the reality on the ground and then only decide when to hold the legislative elections. Haste may prove detrimental to national interests.
This word of caution has become necessary in view of the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the pulling out of the Mehbooba Mufti Government by the BJP. The internal security scenario had gone so bad that it was proving to be a drag for the BJP to continue in power. That was the prime reason why the Election Commission chose not to hold parliamentary and legislative elections together, even though the idea was doing the rounds in the State for some time. With the parliamentary elections having been put behind, the demand for the legislative polls has naturally come up. Yet, we urge for a lot of caution before the decision about the timing is made.
The reason is simple: The internal situation in Kashmir is yet to be fully brought under control. Anti-national elements are constantly engaged in creating disturbances, which is evident from the statements of some political leaders. If legislative elections are taken hastily, then a lot of undesirable developments may mar the electoral process. Hence our word of caution. We do realise that the legislative elections may not be held back for too long a time. Yet, it has become very necessary that the exercise is undertaken only after ensuring that the situation is under a better coordinated control.
For, following the recent developments around Pulwama terror strike, a greater need has arisen to see that all the components of the Kashmir situation are under a stricter scrutiny. In actual terms, now is the right time to set in motion a truly well-modulated plan of action to rectify the wrong in Kashmir. This need not take too long a time, provided the Centre leads the show from the front under President’s Rule. We see concealed in the current condition opportunities to effect a long-lasting rectification of the wronged priorities and messed up administrative and political initiatives. Even as these steps are taken, we insist that the Centre must not mix the developmental idea with the corrective measures.
For, Kashmir never lacked developmental funding; it only lacked a coordinated approach in an omnibus plan with a strong nationalistic core. Unfortunately, most political parties in Kashmir may not participate in such an effort since that would actually lead to closing of their shops that sell separatism as a consumable. The task of navigating a good road to a better sense of integration of Kashmir with the rest of India through the jungle of separatist politics needs to be tackled with a mix of courage and caution. Legislative elections may be held after seeds of some sensible and secure feelings start germinating. In the past some time since the BJP’s withdrawal from the State Government, some good signs are available from Jammu and Kashmir. The need is to identify those and then push a well-integrated plan.