Shameem, A Pioneer Of Electoral Politics

We were too young in 1967 to understand what the elections generally were all about but one fact was taken as part of destiny that the ruling party candidate would always win, votes or no votes. Shameem’s election as an independent candidate from his home constituency Shopian gave us first lessons in electoral politics.

From L to R, Bansi Parimu, Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, Ved Bhasin, Shamim A Shamim.

Along with that fact existed Ayeena, the weekly that must till date remains the most keenly awaited and read weekly in our history. Ayeena created a great mix of journalism and politics and anybody who could read Urdu remained attached to it. It was perhaps the first independent newspaper of Kashmir that our generation knew.

Through Ayeena Shameem created sensational characters out of very ordinary mortals. Shopian ka Mard-e-Bimar was his epithet for his elderly congress opponent. Similar was the fate of his returning officer a Munsif or something. The poor judge became a mascot of electoral fraud that was the thumb rule for elections in the state till then and much later.

But the high point of his election campaign became the Chief Election Commissioner of India whom Shameem involved in his battle against fraud as we see the district magistrate these days. Sundaram (VK perhaps) became a household name in Kashmir courtesy Shameem Ahmed Shameem. And he earned the singular distinction of being perhaps the only candidate in Indian electoral history to have been declared elected not by the returning officer but the CEC himself. If I recall correctly the announcement was delayed till the arrival of Sundaram. Entire Kashmir waited with a bated breath till it happened.

Shameem’s election to the Lok Sabha in 1971 owed itself mainly to the support of Sheikh Abdullah and the comfort of GM Sadiq in seeing their common enemy Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad humbled and humiliated. That purpose was achieved but Shameem through his literary barbs and blazing oratory made the event historic.
If Kashmir’s electoral history is full of references like those of Khaliq DC which became metaphors in their own right it is punctuated by the valiant fights like that of Shameem as well. I think he made it dawn on Kashmiri mind for the first time that though tough it is not impossible to win an election against a ruling party candidate. His follow up in the Assembly and the Parliament through his wit and eloquence are recorded facts of history, which of course added immense value and dignity to his electoral battles.

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