Exit polls under election law are banned and one can never be sure of the trends till the final results are declared. However, there is always whispering going on among the voters and the general public about the possible outcome of the voting. Many experts had predicted that a total boycott may help BJP as they could manipulate the votes polled. It would be very difficult to rig the polls when there is overwhelming participation. So far the polling has been appreciable from 72% to 58%.
Many theories have been advanced for this unprecedented turn out. Some say it is a deliberate attempt by the youth of Kashmir to defeat the mission 44+ while others attribute it to the failure of the popular leadership. They have neither succeeded in advancing political settlement of Kashmir nor done anything to ameliorate the lot of the people in their daily lives. Thus people have been coming out in large numbers to at least improve their daily living conditions.
During interviews to various TV channels people have been mostly speaking about choosing good representatives who would help them in various day to day needs such as employment, roads, power, and water and so on. They had chosen some people in the last elections on the same plea but those people completely let them down. There has been total lack of good governance during last six years. Over and above, there has been repression and indiscriminate killing of innocent youth.
Now people seem to be treading the same path and there is every possibility of the earlier lot being rejected entirely as was evident from the Parliament elections! The possibility of people turning to BJP at least in the valley is remote. The only alternative left is Mufti Sayed’s PDP. There may be some independent candidates favoured by local people because of their honesty and uprightness.
In Jammu though BJP had a clean sweep in Parliament elections, the assembly election is a different story at least in Chenab Valley right from Kishtwar to Poonch. Kashmiri speaking Muslim areas too will not go with BJP in case of sizeable turnout of the voters. Rumours are afloat that PDP may be leading in some areas. There has also been lessening of enthusiasm because of the wavering of BJP regarding Article 370. One cannot predict with certainty but the general feeling is that the PDP may emerge as the single largest party. It would be in the interests of stability if they get absolute majority on their own. They would not be then getting continuance nagging from their partners as has happened in earlier coalition governments.
Now the million dollar question is whether this turning of the “Mission 44+” into “Mufti 44+” is inadvertent or deliberate? Narendra Modi is a very shrewd and astute player. He keeps his cards to his chest. It is not an easy job to rise from a Chai Wala to become the Prime Minister of a country never mind the democratic credentials of the constitution espoused all over the world especially when money has been a major player in all these elections. One needs brains, guts and above all the shrewdness to do that! Imagine the pariah of the Gujarat massacre shunned by the United States being host to the President of that country on the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations. A perfect 180 degrees turn around!
Narendra Modi has a mission to turn India into a true Hindu Rashtra but of the corporate type which Arundhati Royhad named, the “Upper Caste Hindu Corporate Republic”! Having had the first brush with Kashmir in nineties when he tried to hoist the tri-colour in Lal Chowk with Murli Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi very well knows the feelings of common Kashmiris. Being a product of RSS, he must be fully aware about the feelings of some of the top RSS ideologues who had, during the 2010 agitation, described Kashmir as an unnecessary burden, virtually a mill stone in the neck of developing India. Some of them had suggested dis-investing Kashmir in the long term interests of India. In fact, Vajpayee had been following the same advice.
Getting rid of Kashmir would ensure billions of dollars of NRI investment in India which remains in limbo because of the uncertainty in the sub-continent and the apprehension of a nuclear holocaust. At the present moment there could be no better alternative than Mufti 44+ during whose earlier tenure Vajpayee had started his mission Kashmir within the parameters of humanity!
Coming to Mufti Sayed’s mission of self-rule, the moot point is how far will he be allowed to go if he ultimately takes over on his own? PDP manifesto covers many things, the developmental as well as political. Can they ensure implementation of these or they will forget once they take over as has been the usual routine of mainstream parties in Kashmir? These parties usually get reminded about their promises and commitments only just before the next election!
In the final analysis, will Mufti Sayed be able to resist demographical changes planned by the Hindutva brigade? Time only can tell! At the moment all these observations may sound mere speculation or loud thinking. However, it would be interesting to watch the Kashmir scene if the “Mission 44+” really turns into “Mufti 44+”!