People living in south Asia are unfortunate in more than one way. Despite being a sub continent with a universe of people, it has remained plagued with crisis in politics and policymaking, which is key to its developing status. In this part of the world, the democracy is a slogan that ends with the polling, while in the developed part of the world, it starts with the elections. It becomes all the more problematic when the concept of democracy reaches Srinagar where internet, perhaps the most democratic tool that God has bestowed the human beings with, is more frequently switched off.
Kashmir’s tryst with democracy had hardly moved beyond a ritual and, as many people believe, the denial or subversion of it has been the key factor for the crisis that it has perpetually survived with. In fact, all the exercises that have been carried out in the name of democracy have completed new experiments to the people, lessons that are taught in the detail of democracy. It must be the only place on earth where the elected people are swearing by a constitution that was drafted by the people, who were literally appointed by the rulers, and lacked any representative character. The brand of democracy reached a level when even the Prime Minister of India suggested his ‘counterpart’ in Srinagar that he should lose a few more seats to lend some kind of credibility to the exercises.
Kashmir must be the only place on earth where the rulers get unnerved when the people come out in huge numbers to participate. When they are denied this right by faulting the process, the people get alienated, and they stopped coming out to vote. Then cops are sent to their homes and they are literally forced to reach the polling station.
Amid these few brands of democracy that have evolved in Kashmir, there were a few elections in which the systems tried to get into course correction. But all those interventions were shot lived.
The just concluded elections for the municipal bodies across Kashmir were the newest edition to the process of democracy. This exercise has led even the commoners think why the elections lack a basic parameter. If three voters out of 10,000 exercise their right of franchise, will the 2-vote scorer be counted as the winner?
But the interesting aspect of these sham polls came after the results were out. A massive horse-trading was reported as independents hold the key to the Mayor’s post for prestigious Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). While the expectation was that the governor’s administration will intervene and make the process, apparent clean, the Raj Bhawan invoked its rights to offer yet another layer of opaqueness by amending the law and making the Mayoral election a secret exercise. A general belief is that it was done to secure some party’s political “investment”.
It is possible that if Delhi’s man is Srinagar’s City Father, it may help the rightwing party in the fast approaching elections. At the same time, it is also possible that the huge investments that political people have allegedly made may eventually cost Srinagar more.