In a development with some fallout on the Assembly elections, Shah Faesal and Engineer Rashid have forged an electoral alliance. They have named the alliance People’s United Front. The alliance, read a statement jointly released by the parties, “has been necessitated by the ongoing political uncertainty in the state, apprehensions with regard to assaults on the special status and the absence of any credible political alternative that could address both the political vacuum and the absence of good governance”. The alliance also seeks resolution of the lingering political conflict over the state in accordance with the aspirations of the people of state. That said, the alliance’s significance lies in the very act of tie-up itself. Even though Shah Faesal is yet to be politically tested, Rashid garnered more than one lakh votes in the recent polls in Baramulla parliamentary constituency and was almost neck and neck with the People’s Conference which is supposed to be the dominant party in North Kashmir. The seat was won by the National Conference though.
People’s United Front is expected to make an impact in North. There’s no telling about its performance in the central and South Kashmir as of now. However, the issue now is not about the Front winning the seats which it looks unlikely to do considering it is still a fledgling outfit. But the share of votes the party gets can make a difference to the outcome in many constituencies, more so, if there’s a substantial boycott of the exercise by the people, as looks likely.
This, once again, brings up the question whether an increasing number of parties fighting over a small pie in the Valley is in the interest of the people. More so, at a time when, to borrow the words of Shah Faesal himself, the Valley is facing an “existential crisis”. The point is not to deny Shah Faesal or any other party the right to contest polls but to do it disparately at a time when a divided mandate in the Valley will have far-reaching consequences and could further threaten “wajood (existence) of the people.
While in parts of Jammu, the consolidation in favour of BJP is a re-assertion of the regions political power following its marginalization post-1947, the Kashmir Valley sees its fragmented mandate as a sign of its progressive political disempowerment relative to Jammu, a fraught development. There is thus a genuine cause of concern for the people of the state, particularly for those in the Valley. All political parties in the Valley have thus the responsibility to ensure that the votes are not divided to an extent that it marginalizes the political mandate of the majority of the people of the state and consequently their voice.