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
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Stability in 2015
Sri Lanka: Making a Case for Change
Connecting Sri Lanka: Train to Jaffna
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Burying the Past: A New Beginning for Pakistan and Afghanistan
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Bangladesh: Diplomatic Manoeuvres at the UNGA
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism’s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
IPCS Forecast: East Asia in 2015
China-North Korea: Reasons for Reconciliation
Abe-Jinping Summit Meet: A Thaw in China-Japan Relations?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?
The Future of SAARC is Now

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ‘Look East’ to ‘Act East’
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
India’s Northeast: Need for a New Anti-Terror Policy
India-China: Securitising Water
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015
India and Maritime Security: Do More
Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
IPCS Forecast: Left-wing Extremism in 2015
Maoist Attack on the CRPF: Time for New Counter-strategies
Naxal Violence: Challenges to Jharkhand Polls

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
18th SAARC Summit: An Economic Agenda
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security
Obama’s New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
IPCS Forecast: West Asia in 2015
Rise of the Islamic State: Implications for the Arab World
Islamic State: The Efficacy of Counter-strategies
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
The Af-Pak Entity: Seduction to Armageddon?
Maritime Combat Power in the Indo-Pacific
Of Lawrence, Sykes-Picot and al-Baghdadi
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Obama’s Rapprochement with Cuba
China's Global Ambition: Need to Emulate Germany
Mid-Term Elections: So What If the US Swings Hard Right?

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 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997

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, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com