The election to three parliament constituencies has witnessed low to moderate polling. The election to Anantnag constituency which was spread over three phases recorded an overall turnout of a meagre 8.76 per cent. In Srinagar constituency, it was a little higher at around 15 percent and in North Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency the turnout was reasonably better at 35 percent. Cumulatively, the turnout in the entire Valley is around 17 percent. And this effectively means that more than 83 percent of people have stayed away from the electoral process. If anything, it means a complete rejection of the electoral process in the Valley and an all out support for the Hurriyat leaders which had called for boycott
Anyways if the recent election campaign was anything to go by, the omens for the polling day didnt look good. For one, the parties struggled to campaign. Other than in parts of North Kashmir hardly any public meeting was held. There were however some closed-door meetings of the party workers. What is more, across the wide swath of South, one could hardly find a flag of a contesting political party hanging across a road or pasted on a wall. Such a complete dissociation from the poll process is becoming more common now.
The predominant boycott of the poll process has made it clear, there is no mainstream political leader in the state who speaks to the aspirations of the people. One major reason for this is the rapacious pursuit of power and pelf that the mainstream politics has become. After the unrest in 2016 which led to killings of nearly a hundred people and the blindings of several hundred, the mainstream politics in Kashmir has lost its morality. It has also lost its ideological conviction, if there was any. When a ruling party coolly presides over the killings of the very people who elected it to power, and the opposition watches over it as a muted spectator, they lose the right to seek votes. What is more, they even lose the right to represent their people. If the ruling parties had cultivated the decency of stepping down over the disproportionate excesses to the people and the leaders had the habit of resigning, this would have lent the mainstream politics some moral authority. People would have looked up to the pro-establishment leaders, if not for their politics then certainly for their integrity. There wouldnt be this complete loss of faith in the system. It seems now as if it already too late. But there can still be hope, if the mainstream parties hew their politics closer to the aspirations of the people.