Why should people of Jammu and Ladakh participate in electoral exercises when Chief Minister of the state has to be a Muslim and a Muslim from Kashmir?
Muslim parties in Kashmir, including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPIM) and similar other Valley-based outfits have in one voice urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold assembly polls in Jammu & Kashmir, along with the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The PDP has even gone to the extent of telling the visiting ECI team to hold the assembly elections “at the earliest”. All in one voice have also said that the Governor’s Rule or President’s Rule is no substitute to a democratically elected government and that only a democratically elected government can cater to the needs of the people and the state.
Suffice it to say that it handed down a system that was of Kashmiri Muslims, by Kashmiri Muslims and for Kashmiri Muslims with the people of Jammu and Ladakh paying only taxes, contributing over 75 percent revenue to the state exchequer and getting only crumbs.
Fair enough. India is a democratic country and elections are an integral part of democracy. No room for any debate on this issue. However, a peep into the electoral history of Jammu & Kashmir would disappoint ardent believers in democracy, Jammu & Kashmir-style. In the State of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the vote of Kashmiri Muslim alone matters and the vote of Jammu and Ladakh have no value whatsoever, despite the fact that both these provinces house more than half of the state’s population and constitute 89 percent of the state’s land area. And, it has been the case since 1951, when elections to elect Jammu & Kashmir Constituent-cum-Assembly were held.
These were sham elections as 73 out of 75 members were elected unopposed – all belonging to the pro-autonomy and rabidly anti-Jammu NC. Not because there were no non-NC candidates available to contest the crucial elections. They were there in strength. In fact, they filed nomination papers but their nomination papers were rejected wholesale. The result was the formation of an all-NC Jammu & Kashmir Constituent-cum-Legislative Assembly and the rise of anti-democratic, anti-Jammu and anti-Ladakh forces with the powers-that-be in New Delhi led by PM JL Nehru always at their back and call.
Earlier, the Sheikh Abdullah government-appointed Delimitation Commission had played a big fraud and earmarked 43 seats for Kashmir and 30 for Jammu and a paltry two for Ladakh. In other words, the Delimitation Commission had given an excessive and preponderant share of representation to Kashmir in the 75-member assembly (57.30%) so that the hegemony of Kashmir was always maintained over the polity.
The story of the 1956 elections in Jammu & Kashmir was no different. If in 1951, JL Nehru’s friend Sheikh Abdullah rigged the elections wholesale to keep the true representatives from Jammu and Ladakh out of the assembly, in 1956, it was Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad whose administration murdered democracy by rejecting the nomination papers of all or nearly all the opposition candidates. The 1956 assembly again was an all-NC assembly with Kashmiri Muslim law-makers playing all the shots and their henchmen from Jammu dancing to their tunes.
As was expected, the assembly adopted in November 1956 Jammu & Kashmir Constitution, which was fundamentally Kashmir-centric and unitary in character. It was enforced on January 6, 1957. It is hardly necessary to reflect on this aspect. Suffice it to say that it handed down a system that was of Kashmiri Muslims, by Kashmiri Muslims and for Kashmiri Muslims with the people of Jammu and Ladakh paying only taxes, contributing over 75 percent revenue to the state exchequer and getting only crumbs.
Separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir will not only restrict the menace of Jihad to the tiny Kashmir Valley but will also strengthen the nationalist constituency in the strategic region which Pakistan wants to eat up to hurt the Indian nation.
Between 1962 and 2014, Jammu & Kashmir witnessed a number of assembly elections. People of Jammu and Ladakh did participate in all of them in large numbers and with great enthusiasm hoping that their vote will one day create a situation leading to the appointment of some person from Jammu or Ladakh as Chief Minister of the state, but all their hopes and just aspirations dashed to the ground. Even the 2002 and 2014 assembly elections didn’t change the status quo: Political power in the hands of Kashmir. The state has been giving a fractured mandate since 2002.
In 2002, the Congress won 15 seats in Jammu and 5 from Kashmir and the PDP won 15 seats – all from Kashmir. What happened? AICC president Sonia Gandhi handed over power to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of the PDP in what she called “national interest”. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) created a history of sorts in Jammu. It won 25 seats and its pre-poll ally, People’s Conference, 2. The PDP won 28 seats – 25 from Kashmir and 3 from Jammu’s Muslim-majority areas. Its effective strength was 27 because Mufti Sayeed had won from 2 constituencies in Kashmir. In other words, both the BJP+ and the PDP had an equal number of seats in the 87-member Legislative Assembly. What happened? The BJP handed over the office of Chief Minister to the PDP on a platter for a full term of six years. The BJP not just handed over the top executive position to the pro-self-rule, pro-jihad and pro-Pakistan PDP, but also allowed it to hold portfolios with political weight, considerable funds, and patronage, thus leaving Jammu and Ladakh in the lurch. Some of the portfolios included Home, Finance, Planning, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Education, Revenue, Tourism, Agriculture, Public Works, Information, Labour and Employment, Science and Technology and General Administration.
It would not be out of place to mention here that Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference with 2 MLAs would have become Chief Minister on November 21, 2018, with the support of the BJP, had the Jammu & Kashmir Governor SP Malik not dissolved the assembly. The BJP had given a letter of unstinted support to Sajad Lone, an author of “Achievable Nationhood” and a votary of separate nation status for Jammu & Kashmir and a solution that is acceptable to the majority (read Muslims).
What will happen if assembly elections are held in Jammu & Kashmir before its division? Farooq Abdullah or his son Omar Abdullah or the Abdullahs and Mehbooba Mufti or the Abdullahs, Mufti and the Rahul Gandhi’s Congress will be at the helm of affairs — all pro-Pakistan, all pro-jihad, all pro-Hurriyat and all patently anti-Jammu and anti-Ladakh. What will they do while in office? They will only subvert the polity from within as before and give full freedom to Jihadis in Kashmir to subvert the polity from outside and promote Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir. Besides, they will undo all the good work which PM Narendra Modi and Governor SP Malik did after June 19, 2018. On June 19, the BJP withdrew its support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led pro-separatist government and Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state under Section 92 of the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution.
This is the whole situation. Why should people of Jammu and Ladakh participate in electoral exercises when Chief Minister of the state has to be a Muslim and a Muslim from Kashmir? What, then, is the way out? The only way out is the separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir and establishment of three assemblies, one each for Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir will not only restrict the menace of Jihad to the tiny Kashmir Valley but will also strengthen the nationalist constituency in the strategic region which Pakistan wants to eat up to hurt the Indian nation.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.