For Kashmir's influential regional political parties, like the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the newly-floated parties are spoilers "with a design". At least six parties have come up in the Valley in last six months with assembly polls knocking at the door.
PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar sees a design in sudden mushrooming of political parties in the Valley. "Post-militancy, it has emerged as a trend to see mushrooming of parties. These are proxies with a design. Their only politics is to cut and fragment Valley votes. It does not happen in the Jammu region," alleged Akhtar. He claimed such parties evaporate post-polls.
The ruling NC has a similar take on the mushrooming of parties. "It has emerged as a trend post-1996. Such parties are floated by certain power centre to have leverage. But we are not threatened because electorally they mean nothing. But even nuisance value of such groups is reckoned to in place like Kashmir. Their existence vanishes post-polls. They do try to fragment the regional vote base," said NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu.
On Monday, Dr Mohammad Ashraf Bhat launched a new political party, Tehreek-I-Haq (TIH), in Srinagar, sixth in the last six months. Describing boycott "illegal", Bhat said, "Our party is an alternative to the opportunistic parties. People should be allowed to exercise their franchise and to form a democratically-elected government."
Denying having any hidden ties with any major political party, TIH president Bhat said, "We want to focus on relief (to the flood-affected people) right now." The party, which claims to have 50 candidates, demanded deferring of polls for smooth relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.
From Srinagar's uptown Jawahar Nagar, Rabbia Bajji, was the first to float a political party, Awami Ittehad Front, in June for the Parliamentary polls and fared badly from the Srinagar-Budgam Lok seat later.
At least three political parties came up in August only. Advocate Fayaz Ahmad Bhat floated the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples United Front, Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri set up the Liberal Democratic Party and Bashir Ahmad Malik launched the Peoples Republican Party in the same month.
"If people have conviction they should float parties. The NC and the PDP have no monopoly on Kashmir politics. If any party thinks these smaller parties are proxies then whose proxy is PDP's Mufti (Muhammad Sayeed)," said Engineer Rashid, who started the Awami Ittehad Party earlier this year.
In the past too, such smaller parties may have proved irritants for the bigger parties but the fact remained that these smaller groups definitely helped spike voting percentage in otherwise pro-boycott constituencies of the state like Sopore.