Prof A N Sadhu
In about a months time, the general elections to parliament will come to conclusion. Elections, in a democracy, are usually hotly fought but this time these election also presented many an unpleasant situations which not only showed the leadership of the country very poorly but also exposed their greed for power rather, than spirit of service to the nation. Many a time it appears that the entire leadership is getting derailed and their campaigning becomes both aimless and direction less. Elections in a 70 year old democracy should have been fought on issues of policy, ideology and futuristic outlook. The electorate is concerned with the welfare measures aiming at improving the quality of life, and should wish that election campaigning promotes a thoughtful debate on its concerns. That purposeful debate has been missing all through. The country started its first five year plan with the basic objectives as :-
i. Eradicating poverty
ii. Removing unemployment
iii. Reducing inequality in income and wealth and
iv. Achieving a high rate of growth with a modest but solid beginning during the first plan period. The poverty is there, the unemployment is there and inequality has in fact widened. The election campaigning should have promoted a nation wide debate on how to address these problems more effectively and successfully, which unfortunately is not happening. Blaming the earlier regimes is escapism. The voter is not interested in that, he should instead like to learn, how the contesting parties and the candidates will address to these problems successfully. Such a debate has nowhere been there during this campaigning.
Regional aspirations have been forcefully projected during these elections. Be it West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, North Eastern states, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana or Jammu & Kashmir. In fact Mahagathbandan mostly comprises of these regional leaders. Jammu and Kashmir, in fact, has remained under greater focus than rest of the regions. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been facing turbulent times right from 1947 but more specifically the last 30 years have been devastating. The state has suffered immense damage in man and material resources. It is a fact, that the trouble is engineered elsewhere but has the local leadership lived to its expectation to manage these troubled days to lessen the pain that it has caused to the people, in general, and more particularly to the people living in Kashmir valley. Judging by all standards, it is felt that the state leadership has not addressed this immeasurable turbulence as it should have been.
After the 2014, General Elections, an alliance government was formed which was beyond the comprehension of a rational thinking person. That for the sake of power, politicians can think of establishing an imaginary world where north and south poles will meet and work wonders, was indeed a utopain thought, Never did the state witness a non performing government as during the period of this alliance arrangement. The sufferers were the common men. That the alliance ended abruptly was no surprise because it was anticipated right at the time, when it was formed. The failure of the alliance, the Pulwama tragedy and the talk of abrogation of article 35A and 370, brought J&K state pronouncedly into focus during this election. It has generated considerable bitterness between the BJP and Kashmir political parties with rest of partners of Mahagathbandan maintaining a calculated careful stance. The state leadership was on a test when these issues got raked up during the election campaign. The maturity of the leaders is gauged only on such occasions when they are required to address to these contentious issues. Provocative statements do not win the voters.
The electorate demands of the contesting parties and candidates a thoughtful action plan to deal with pressing problems of the people and not to issue threatening statements to their opponents. What is the use of wasting one’s breath on dilating the settled issues. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and it will remain like that; it will neither aceede to Pakistan or to China. Its future lies with Indian Union. People can no longer be befooled because electorate in the state is educated and aware of the realities. Kashmir leadership has shown itself in a way that reveals more of desperateness than of maturity and commitment to address to the problems of the state. The state has acute problem of unemployment, agricultural backwardness and poor tourist infrastructure besides a very serious problem of reviving the environment of religious coexistence and communal brotherhood by creating conducive conditions for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri pundits to the land of their ancestors.
Kashmir leaders have mostly carried out their election campaign on anti BJP stance labeling them as anti Muslim and anti Kashmiris. This does not go down the throat because of number of events organized by the Muslims of the country reposing absolute faith in Modi and the government led by him. He has even been given highest honours by the Islamic states. Much of what is spoken during the elections is a ” Jumla” for limited period consumption. The leaders should talk of development than of Atom Bombs. Talking of Indo-Pak friendship is wisdom but talking of bombs is childish. The leaders of Kashmir have so far not made any serious effort to bring back the displaced community and rehabilitate them with dignity and security. It is unfortunate that Hindus Temples and shrines Bill has so far not been passed. It is equally a sad commentary on the state administration that employment package has not been completed and the employees under this package have not been provided with suitable living conditions at their work places. In the general elections these should have been the issues that got addressed to show that our leaders are genuinely interested in restoring the valley to its prestine glory. Using “Jumlas” for clapping do not yield any results. Regional aspirations need to be respected, of course, in the broader national framework. India is on the threshold of emerging as an important role player on the world scene and regions should strengthen that resolve to reap the benefits of a strong and developed nation.
Prof A N Sadhu