I had been watching the analysis of the Jammu and Kashmir election results on NDTV and for the first time, that I recall – I actually felt good while watching something about Kashmir.
The verdict, which has been hailed by the Prime Minister as ‘ A Vote for Democracy’ definitely felt good. For the first time, polls in Jammu and Kashmir have been virtually violence-free and non-coercive. It was an election where people ignored the boycott called by the separatist movement and came out in decisive numbers to vote. And vote they did! A 60.5% voter turnout!
To add to everything, the National Conference emerged as the single largest party, with the pro-separatist PDP, not faring as well.
Though it would be very premature to call this an ‘end to the separatists movement’ in Kashmir, lets hope, that this is a kind of landmark, a turning point for the Jammu and Kashmir region. It has been hailed as a sign of trust by the J&K voters in the Indian democratic system.There are people argueing that the voters’ have voted for governance and development, keeping autonomy out of the elections. Even if that maybe so – if the voter turnout was this high – surely, it is an indication that they felt that their vote would amount to something, that the democratic system in India, with all its problems – is still democratic, that people’s voices will be heard. That, itself, if you ask me, is a huge triumph for India.
The true test would be for the newly elected government to show that they live up to the voters’ expectations. I am hoping that this is the first step towards outing the separatist movement in Kashmir.