The election scenario in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to witness a significant change this time. A decade ago, political parties had to search far and wide for candidates. This time, there’s already a mad scramble among ticket seekers. So much so, several new parties have emerged on the horizon.
In 2002, about 20 parties, besides several Independents, participated in the elections that threw up the PDP-Congress government. The number is expected to go up this time.
Among those queuing up for registration with the Election Commission are the Peoples Democratic Forum of Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, Darkshan Andrabi’s Socialist Democratic Party, A.K. Dewani’s Jammu and Kashmir National Democratic Front and the Peoples Revolutionary Movement headed by Rajinder Jamwal. “It reflects a positive change. There is a willingness among people to participate in polls,” said CPI-M leader M.Y. Tarigami.
In his blog, National Conference president Omar Abdullah has recalled how his party faced problems in finding candidates to contest the elections in 1996. But now, Abdullah says, he is unable to get away from prospective candidates. “Anyone I meet is a candidate. Retired and serving government officials want to fight elections while youngsters are looking for a beginning in politics...”
According to Ghulam Hassan Mir, former tourism minister of the state: “Two decades of turmoil created a political vacuum as traditional parties were left with redundant leaders. A qualified leadership will emerge and get accommodated in other groups.” Mir recently quit the PDP to form the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Party.