Home Contact Us
Search :

J&K - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2744, 27 November 2008
J&K Elections I: A Short Electoral History
Raghav Sharma
Research Officer, IPCS
e-mail: raghav@ipcs.org

The coalition patched up between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress (I) in J&K following the 2002 elections, collapsed following protests over the Amarnath land transfer. Apart from the communal polarization and wave of anti-India protests that have preceded it, a repeated failure of governance in the past decade also make the 2008 elections crucial.

The first elections in Kashmir held in 1951 catapulted the National Conference (NC) under tutelage of Sheikh Abdullah to power. However the subsequent elections that followed were mired in charges of blatant rigging by New Delhi. One exception to this were the 1977 assembly elections, held after the lifting of the Emergency imposed by Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, whose party was routed allowing the NC to emerge victorious. However the electoral process lay suspended from 1990 as insurgency gripped the state, only to be rekindled in late 1996. The 1996 elections, regarded as fair, once again catapulted the NC to power. The 2002 elections built upon this process were acknowledged as being 'free and fair' by the international community. Disillusionment with what was popularly perceived to be a corrupt and insensitive government led people to vote for the opposition PDP, which too soon failed on the governance front. Instead corruption and narrow politics, as revealed by the political opportunism of the PDP in the Valley and the BJP in Jammu, over the Amarnath land row, ruled roost.

The protests over land transfer and the lack of state response to it, communally polarized the atmosphere and galvanized the separatist movement like never before. Communalization of the political arena is not new to Kashmir; this was witnessed in the 1983 elections when Mrs. Gandhi, in order to counter the BJP went so far as to incite Jammu Hindus against the Resettlement Act under which Muslims who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 were allowed to return and re-settle. The NC gravitated towards Islamist parties and election results clearly mirror this polarization - NC won thirty eight seats in the Muslim majority Valley, two in Jammu, and one in Ladakh; the Congress swept Jammu winning twenty three seats, a mere two from the valley, and one from Ladakh. However, following the launch of the separatist movement in 1989, communalization of identity in the political arena has acquired far more dangerous overtones.

The Indian state cannot afford to simply look the other way, as it did in light of the recent political turmoil. Nor can it afford to repeat its past mistakes of reducing the election process to a farce and in the process push Kashmiris into the arms of extremists. The most vivid example of this was the 1987 elections, when many candidates of MUF (Muslim United Front), ideologically close to the Jama'at, were beaten up by Congress goons. In sheer disgust and rage, many youth crossed into Pakistani-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and joined the mujahideen. Of these two in particular are worthy of notice, Muhammad Shah Yusuf who contested the 1987 elections on a MUF ticket and his polling agent Yasin Malik. Amidst charges of blatant rigging Yusuf was declared defeated and subsequently tossed into prison. Upon his release in 1989 he crossed over to Pakistan (as did Malik), formed the Hizbul Mujahidin and took the name Syed Salahuddin, the legendary 12th century Muslim commander during the Crusades. In a conscious invocation of Islamic religious symbols he spoke of war in Kashmir as al-jihad, or holy war. Thus, political assertion acquired a religious tinge.

The conduct of as well as the people's response to the elections, will play a crucial role in restoring the credibility and image of the Indian government. Thus, far the ten constituencies that went to polls in the first phase on 17 November witnessed a fairly respectable turnout, though slightly less from 2002, of 55 per cent. In fact the once terrorist-infested Bandipore constituency witnessed the highest voter turnout of 74 per cent. The second phase of polling that concluded in six constituencies on 23 November, though marred by sporadic incidents of violence, witnessed a high turnout of 64.66 per cent. The most intensely contested constituency in the second phase is Ganderbal which will decide the political fate of Omar Abdullah, who was defeated in 2002 from what was once considered to be his family's impregnable political fortress.

The figures thrown up by the first two phases augur well for the remaining five. The high turnout has eased government anxieties, foxed the separatists who hoped to transform the swirling anti-India sentiment into a boycott, and thereby at least morally undermining the legitimacy of Indian rule. Successful elections will lend a degree of political credence to the Indian state and will not only enable India to take the political process forward but could potentially spark a debate within the separatist camp on the need for newer political strategies of engagement with the Indian state as opposed their past rhetoric of boycott. However, the challenge for the Indian state would be to capitalize on the electoral process by subsequently being able to deliver effective governance which affects the everyday life of the common man.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Afghanistan - Watching from the Sidelines

Post Election Blues

Afghan Presidential Elections: The Road So Far

Mapping the Afghan Elections

India and the World: Interaction with the US Marine Corps War College

Courting Astana: Nazarbeyev’s India Visit and Beyond

Afghanistan: Seven Years after 9/11

Will TAPI Remain a Pipedream?

Structural Roots of Authoritarianism in Pakistan

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com