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Force Magazine

Battle for the State
Political parties are pulling out all stops to win the forthcoming Assembly elections in J&K

By Afsana Rashid

Srinagar: With the State Assembly elections round the corner, mainstream political parties and separatists here are gearing up with their respective agendas. Many new political equations and alliances are expected to come to the fore in the upcoming polls, in Jammu and Kashmir, slated at the end of this year.

The contest will be close for several stalwarts and many new faces will emerge on the political horizon of the state. Though bijli, pani and sadak (electricity, water and roads) will remain the main focus of the election manifesto of several political parties, resolution of Kashmir issue, abrogation of Article 370 (that provides special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir) and rehabilitation for Kashmiri Pandits will find equal importance on their respective agendas. Prof. Farooq Fayaz, a prominent historian, author and director Academic Staff College, University of Kashmir, observes that apart from focusing on good governance, all political parties have their own roadmaps to follow.

Congress, according to him, would stress on multi-cultural and multi-religion identity. The party would plead holding of the secular fabric intact and preserving the rich secular identity of the state, says the noted academician. He adds that the political ideology of National Conference (NC) would be based on autonomy, whereas People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would focus on self-rule and strengthening of Indo-Pak relations and resumption of dialogue between the two neighbouring countries. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the other hand he says, would focus on good governance.

What is, however, sad is that none of the parties address the real issues. Pointing this out, Jagmohan Singh Raina, chairman, All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, says that despite the fact that the economy of Kashmir is mostly based on the tourism and handicraft sector, no regional or national political party speaks about these issues in their manifestos. He feels disturbed by the fact that all political leaders have been exploiting the Kashmir issue for the last 60 years. “They have been playing with the sentiments of the people,” he says. He believes that had the National Commission for Minorities Act been extended to the state, it would have benefited the minorities.

Kashmir Election
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