J&K sees subdued campaign, candidates rely on social media
The district development council (DDC) polls, the first electoral exercise to be held in Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation the former state’s special status and bifurcation, are round the corner but the election fever is conspicuously absent as are buntings, banners and mega rallies.
Amid the Covid crisis, most candidates in fray for the 280 seats, are opting for door-to-door campaigning or are using social media platforms, especially news portals to seek votes, especially in rural areas. Many candidates, especially young ones, have made short video messages seeking votes and highlighting their priorities.
Advocate Irfan Hafeez Lone, who is contesting from Sangrama, says he prefers door-to-door campaigning. “I am not tech savvy myself but my friends are using social media to boost my campaign. My opponents have money and muscle power but I am confident of winning.Social media will certainly play an important role.”
So far, only the BJP and Apni Party have held rallies and conventions in different parts of the Union Territory. Top BJP national leaders were seen campaigning in different parts of Kashmir.
Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari, who presided over a party convention under tight security at Sherwani Hall in Baramulla, said these elections were being for development of areas in different assembly segments: “The people who will get elected will form development plans for their areas. This is the third tier of the Panchayat Raj system.”
J&K Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the party had decided that local workers will play a major role in seeking votes for party candidates in DDC polls: “We are also planning some rallies in different parts of J&K.”
On Tuesday, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who is also president of the six-party alliance of regional parties, released a short video seeking votes for alliance candidates. The message was shared by all prominent leaders of the PAGD on social media.
Peoples Conference spokesperson Adnan Ashraf, whose party is part of the alliance, said their candidates are relying both on door-to-door campaigning and social media. “We have many young educated candidates. Besides using social media they also travel from village-to-village seeking votes. Since these are grassroots elections local impact will have influence.”
Adnan said campaigning has been mostly left to the local leadership. “Top leaders will go for limited campaigning.”
Political analyst Ishfaq Ahmad says people in Kashmir were still shocked over the decisions announced on August 5, 2019. “Though all parties are in fray, enthusiasm is missing even among the top leaders of major regional political parties. Now, vote percentage is crucial, which will determine the future of politics in J&K.’
Different parties and independent candidates will contest the eight-phased election for 280 seats slated for November 28 to December 19. The counting will take place on December 22.