It is only the brave who rule the world, it is they who bring about the change that is the essence of life. They have the courage to look beyond discomfort and set course for a new and better existence.
Kashmir has remained in the throes of a political status quo for too long now. It is so because Kashmir has in its fold only politicians who are sadly lacking in leadership and statesmanship. They are not brave enough to establish the much required courage of conviction. The political establishments are clinging on to rigid postures and not allowing any space to change the narrative. It is so because each political party and its guiding leadership (which is mostly a family) has carved out a niche for itself and is not ready to deviate from the same due to fear of getting marginalized.
People of Kashmir have, time and again, demonstrated their displeasure at the level of leadership. The low polling in Kashmir during the recently conducted Lok Sabha polls is an indicator of the displeasure and annoyance of the people with their leaders. It is notable here that the current elections have witnessed a considerable dip in polling in places like Anantnag, which registered 28.54 percent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. There is no change in the thought process of the people over the last five years in this particular region of the state. The situation has, in fact, gone from bad to worse.
It is once again being said that low voter turnout was due to fear of the militants. The argument does not hold since the government forces did their job in creating an environment where fearless voting was feasible, as is apparent from the fact that those who voted have not suffered any adverse consequences. This apart, people of Kashmir are known to be not intimidated into not doing what they wish to do. Obviously, they did not wish to vote for the candidates in the fray. It is quite evident that leaders have not been able to generate confidence among the people to come out and vote despite the platform of stability provided to them.
The leaders, on their part are not looking at the mirror on the wall. Political parties are not infusing fresh and young blood into their system. The same old people who have fought elections for decades on end were again nominated as candidates. The campaigning was carried out with all of its traditional negativity of trying to deride each other. There was no attempt to understand the aspirations of the younger generation which now forms the bulk of the Kashmiri population. There were no Out-of-the-Box solutions to overcome the issues that the region has remained mired in for decades on end. How to fight the endemic corruption? How to infuse economic activity despite the restrictions being applied on the state? The issues are many and diverse in nature but tackling them head on does not seem to be the priority of the so-called leaders.
The fact is that the existing leadership is scared to work due to fear of failure and the attendant assault by the opposition. It feels comfortable in remaining neutral. Talk a lot but do nothing is the abiding dictum. The mainstream leadership has failed to infuse confidence among voters of areas that have traditionally witnessed a low turnout. Personal interaction; social and political discourse on the problems of the people and resolving them with all honesty; development; psychological conditioning was required to break the impasse that has been there for too long; apparently, it s not been forthcoming.
A festering wound required surgery to be healed; the same applies for life too! When there is a problem that simply refuses to go away, the solution lies in total disruption of the environment. Shed the old to make way for the new, open up the pace for new ideas, now concepts, new aspirations, new, objectives and then see what happens. There is a need to reassess that potential of the traditional leaders of the local political parties of Kashmir valley. If they cannot motivate their people to come out and vote then they demonstrate a lack of acceptance as leaders. What is required now is a motivated leadership that leads from the front and with personal example, such a leadership will get the support of the administration and the people. No power can stand against such a collective will.
It is hoped that the local leadership in Kashmir will introspect on its viability, potential, capability and acceptability to hold on to the mantle. This is, however, easier said than done, human beings have a tendency to cling to the status quo, mainly because change is uncomfortable. It is, however, the need of the hour for Kashmir; if swift action is not taken the region will suffer immensely. There is only a small window available before the State Assembly Elections. It is hoped that the window will be utilized to bring about the necessary change.