It is a victory for democracy. This was the unanimous sentiment of all political parties as the Jammu and Kashmir election results came in. With a massive 61 per cent voter turnout, and what appears to be a fractured verdict, it would seem that J&K has confounded all political pundits. The National Conference (NC) has come in with 28, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has notched up 21, the Congress 17, the BJP 11 and others 10. The stage could well be set for a Congress-NC government. With both the NC and the PDP playing the soft separatism card with a hint of self-rule, the task of governing a state where the BJP has made substantial inroads in one region is going to prove difficult. The new government will have to handle the aspirations of Jammu as well as the Valley which, as we see from the election results are very different.
There is no doubt that the Amarnath Shrine controversy has imparted a communal tinge to the politics of the state. But the fact remains that despite all this the people have voted, by and large, for governance and for those who are seen as accessible to the common man. That most of the prominent leaders from the NC, PDP and Congress have won show that people may want change but with an element of continuity. Prime minister Manmohan Singh was very clear that whether his party formed a government in the state or not, the election showed that democracy was the winner.
The fears that the Mumbai terror attacks would cast a dampener on the last phases of the polls in the state seem to have been proved wrong. The fact that polling proceeded peacefully shows the faith that the people of the state have in the democratic polity with all its warts. This is a chance for all the major parties that have fared well in the polls to show that they can rise above partisan politics and put national interest above all, given the current atmosphere of hurt and pain. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have had to face violence and terror for far too long. The verdict is a sign that now their time in the sun has come.