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Governance In Conflict: The Clear Divide In J&K Election Results, And The Way Forward

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By Antara Mukherjee:

The election results of Jammu and Kashmir on December 24 were fragmented and a true reflection of the affairs within the state. PDP with Mufti and BJP with Narendra Modi surfaced as neck to neck contenders, the former winning by just a little.

kashmir elections 2014

The current conundrum in the state and in the eyes of the whole country is – what will be the image of the next government? Both the parties have been politically and historically very different, and not friendly towards each other. Even though the BJP muted the issue of the special state and Article 370 for the sake of the election results, PDP had disbanded any sentiments of alliance with the saffron party pre-result. It had encouraged and represented an anti-BJP sentiment in the valley.

What is now clear is that this decision that PDP leader Mufti will have to make soon will make or break the aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir as a state. The election results have correctly and powerfully represented the current mood of the region. PDP seems to have gained most of the Muslim votes in Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu, whereas BJP seems to have won the votes of most of the Hindus in the valley. The result hints towards the deep polarisations being felt by the people of this region.

Therefore, even though PDP won as the single largest party for the formation of the new government, it cannot ignore the close win of BJP, representing a large Hindu population in its heartland. A coalition is the best solution to represent and unite different communities. The results have created a clear divide, represented a clear communal emotion that could turn dangerous if the future government isn’t well thought out.

Functionally and politically, the new government has a huge pressure on it before it’s even made. It has to be cohesive and very careful about who it chooses to include in its fold.

Greater Kashmir reports “Amitabh Mattoo, former Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University has correctly observed that elections in Jammu and Kashmir are much more than a democratic ritual. In the popular imagination, they have been powerful symbols – of faith and betrayal; of resistance and accommodation; of hope and disillusionment; of confidence and uncertainty”.

Over the last few months we have seen certain saffron parties like the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates carrying out and supporting mass forced conversions of other religious communities into Hinduism. It supports it and has created a bad name for the BJP, whether or not the party in question chooses to remain silent about it. This intolerance if at all makes a single entry in the already flammable valley, it could start a fire that will not be ended by mere words or political apologies, but in ruin. Muslims in the valley are currently very wary of BJP and its alliance to such fascist political units.

Even PDP which is clearly a Muslim dominated party will be required to mute its anti-BJP stand to keep peace with the Hindus in Kashmir. They will be required to be as diplomatic as they can by putting behind histories of religious conflict and that of Article 370.

Hence, the PDP and BJP have to be very careful as though walking on eggshells while figuring out who sits in power. The valley isn’t like the rest of the country. Its history has made it different, more prone to political accidents and less tolerant towards communal politics.

The BJP seems very ready and interested to represent the Hindus of the region, and maybe they will stick to productive spokespersons just like PDP will have to, to make this work.

To reiterate, the election results have divided the support and unity in J&K but in it also lies the opportunity to form a government that resolutely works for development, progress and peace in the region. A government that will concentrate on action for important issues instead of indulging in divisive politics. A government that will re-write the political history of the valley, including maybe becoming an example of unity between two polar opposite parties that nobody imagined would work together.

The next announcement from the state will be awaited with bated breath, with hope and from a critical viewpoint. One can only hope that the one of the most sensitive of all the states in our country will find in it a perfect solution through a democratic process and calculated and responsible diplomacy.

Also Read: How The 1987 Elections Shook The Faith Of The Kashmiri People In Indian Democracy

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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