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NC fall: statistics reveal grim grassroots reality

Srinagar: Though on its face the just concluded election presents a spectacular spectacle of eventual NC decline, the statistics in their grim cold figures reveal a complex story of the depleted grassroots base which precipitated this outcome. 

In the valley, the birthplace and always the fervent nurturing ground of NC, the winning 18 candidates of the party have polled just 1,77,462 votes which is a mere 6.15 per cent of the 2,884,002 strong electorate in province. 

And both the losing and winning candidates of the party in valley have polled 3,04,613 votes which amounts to only 10.56 per cent. 

Though the party would attribute it to the large-scale boycott forced by the fear of militants, the common opinion here by and large does not buy this line. According to them, the boycotters could as well be considered autonomous in their decision given the fact that maximum votes were polled in the miltancy-infested areas. Besides, the trends indicate that wherever security forces were instrumental in getting people to vote, they usually chose a party other than NC. 

And the boycott in Kashmir province, the statistics further reveal, has been on a much wider scale than officially or even otherwise admitted. If we exclude Jammu and Ladakh province, the boycott figure in valley rises steeply to 71 per cent. Only 853923 people have voted which is around 29 per cent of the total electorate. 

Other grim realisation for the NC is its performance in Srinagar city which presents a typically paradoxical situation for the party. That is, in its once vaunted pre-1989 bastion while the NC may have won around five of the eight seats, there is a consensus on the fact that the party would have lost all of these had people voted. This taken together with a broad swathe of the urban-oriented areas of the valley comprising major and smaller towns where boycott was total and by and large voluntary, presents the ground situation in its raw and unalloyed form. 

Even figures do not hide this reality. That is, in the 30,433 votes polled in the district by the six winning candidates of the party, Mian Altaf gets a lion’s share of 16,987 and the combined total of five others is just 13,446. 

In Jammu province where traditionally the NC has been more or less an occasional favourite, the party despite being routed has put up a marginally better showing. As against 1,737,392 votes polled in the province -- the figure also includes that of Kargil in Ladakh region -- NC has got 4,55,854 votes which is about 26 per cent of the total. The winning 10 candidates of the party in the province have on the other hand got only 3,21,516 votes which is only 5.56 per cent of the total electorate in the province. Besides, the district-wise break-up of the seats won by the party in the province also does not encourage. Out of the 13 seats in Jammu district the party has been able to garner a sole seat in place of the three in the last election. Same is the case with Udhampur where party has also bagged a solitary seat. 

The showing is on expected lines in the province even otherwise. With the grassroots complexion of politics broadly taking an anti-Kashmiri posture, the party has a long-term worry on cards there. It is in this context that a depleting base in Kashmir is even more worrying.

¯ Riyaz Ahmad (Greater Kashmir) 

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