Changing the Guard!

Irtif Lone

On a beautiful morning when the little bird sits on your bedroom window and starts singing the spring song, all you wish for is a Holiday. And luckily so it was. A holiday had sprouted. It was not the usual holiday. But then usual or unusual, a holiday is a holiday. Holiday was given and in lieu people were asked to vote, to choose their representatives. Well, in Kashmir that didn’t matter anyways. The trend had been set. All people were expected to do was, follow the suit. To do, what Srinagar has almost always done since the 1987 elections, stayed away from the polls and crossed with difficulty even the two digit mark. And that’s what followed in the north Kashmir. It was just a holiday for many.

And everybody thought like the previous times, boycott would favour National Conference. But that didn’t happen. People’s Democratic Party did what nobody had been able to do before. They made sure that they win all the three seats of Kashmir province.  Even the Party president of National Conference lost. That too when assembly elections are just a few months away! And seeing what has happened to National Conference, particularly to the father-son equation. I remember something.

That one story, an anecdote to be more precise comes to my mind. It must have been more than 8 years, JKCCS had organised a series of political debates which had representation from both mainstreamers and separatist. In one such debate, Syed Ali Geelani narrated a story. It was about the axe and its wooden grip (handle). When the woodcutter began to cut the tree, the tree began to weep and cry. The woodcutter asked why it was crying. And the tree replied, “It’s not the axe which hurts me, it the wooden handle. It was my branch once and now it has become a collaborator in cutting me down. It’s the pain of being betrayed by someone who was a part of me for long time”.

Also a couple of days before, Facebook seemed flooded with a message from the PDP. They were seeking volunteers to run their campaign on social media. They are probably changing the way elections are fought in Kashmir. If that post was a reality, then it would definitely make an impact however small it may. Considering that in parliamentary elections, if the winning margin can be 36 votes, then even a single vote would matter in assembly elections.

Social Media played quite a role during the unrest of 2008, 2009, and 2010. It was used as an alternative medium to reach to people during the times when even newspapers were not allowed to publish or the vendor was not allowed to move through curfewed areas. But for elections it probably is going to play an active role for the first time. It is very much inspired by the kind of campaign Modi-Sarkar ran. But how much difference would it make in elections at a place like Kashmir, remain to be seen.


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