Changing paradigm of politics in J&K

Whatever will be the outcome of the 2008 Assembly elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it is clearly emerging that contours of politics in Jammu and Kashmir are changing.

Though, this time it seems more dominated by the national party like Congress but as far as the leaders like Mufti Mohammed Sayed, Mehbooba Mufti, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are concerned, they are more important as they have numbers on their side.

Congress party’s compulsion would be to go out of the way to woo regional parties like NC, JKNPP, PDF & independents and the last option would be PDP to form the government in the state. Even these regional parties which are on the back burner at present having lost public faith are flexing their muscles and are trying to re-construct damages will certainly maintain a distance from Congress.

These developments clearly indicate that even if Congress gets more seats this time on the basis of developmental activity in the state yet the future of Jammu and Kashmir state politics will be decided by regional players.

Such a situation may not be bad for the state as after the last elections state has been ruled by a coalition instead of a single party and a lot of development was witnessed but that ended with a bad name (which seems will not put much effect on the electorate who are politically aware enough). The implications of new trends will be that regional players will have more influence and this will check authoritarian trends, but will also make it more difficult to resolve disputes or issues.

The progress under coalition governments has been positive but at the same time the gap between poor and rich, urban and rural has widened. The combination of parties which will form the Government will find it very difficult to take any firm action to reduce this gap.

There is however, a negative side to it as coalition rule means larger and larger ministries with comparatively lesser responsibilities. With every regional player seeking a place under the sun, any combination will survive only if representation is given to all.

Moreover, regional parties are vehicle for any national party to reach out to every nook and corner of the state. Regional political parties represent the aspirations of the regions, grow on regional issues and are vehicles for national parties to reach out to the people. When national interests are involved, these parties forget their political differences and work in tandem but it was unfortunate that in the recent past two of our mainstream regional political parties forgot national interests and came out with such a statements at different places, which resulted in worsening the law and order situation not only in the state but across the nation, causing huge losses to both live and property.

As a state having three different regions with distinguished cultures Jammu and Kashmir cannot be governed without existence of regional parties that act as safety valves. However, the coalition must confine itself to a limited mandate and not go beyond as such a venture can have serious eventualities.


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