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Kashmir’s Political Chessboard: Strategies, alliances, & power dynamics

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As the Kashmir Valley prepares for the Lok Sabha polls, with Srinagar Parliamentary constituency slated for voting tomorrow in the fourth phase, the region finds itself at a crucial juncture, grappling with a complex fabric of political aspirations and socio-cultural narratives.
Beyond the conventional electoral rhetoric of development and progress, the discourse resonates with deeper themes of identity, autonomy, and self-determination, reflective of Kashmir’s nuanced political ethos. Against the backdrop of transformative events post the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, the forthcoming elections serve as a litmus test for the region’s political dynamics and aspirations.

Shifting priorities
Unlike previous elections where development agendas dominated discourse, the current electoral narrative underscores the broader quest for restoration of identity. This shift reflects the deeply entrenched socio-political aspirations of Kashmiri populace post-Article 370 abrogation.
Regional parties, including the National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference (PC), and Apni Party, have foregrounded these themes to mobilise support and challenge the central government’s decisions.

Fragmentation & alliances
The contest on the three LokSabha seats of the Kashmir Valley primarily revolves around parties within the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). However, internal fissures and strategic divergences have led to fractures within the alliance, notably between the NC and PDP.
The emergence of the Apni Party and Democratic Progressive Azad Party further complicates the electoral landscape, thus highlighting the fragmented nature of Kashmiri politics.

Contesting narratives
Each party within the PAGD frames the election as a referendum on the decisions made on August 5, 2019, accusing rivals of colluding with the ruling BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) or being proxies thereof. This narrative reinforces the battle for political legitimacy and autonomy.
Personal rivalries, ideological differences, and strategic alliances shape key contests in constituencies like Anantnag, Srinagar, and Baramulla, reflecting the intricate web of Kashmiri politics.

Delimitation Dynamics
The delimitation exercise has introduced a new dimension to Kashmir’s electoral calculus, reshaping boundaries and demographics in constituencies across the region. This has necessitated recalibrated electoral strategies, with parties strategically selecting candidates and targeting specific demographic segments. The inclusion of new segments and demographic shifts have altered traditional electoral calculations, adding layers of complexity to the electoral dynamics. The participation of various political parties in the LokSabha polls adds an additional variable to the already intricate equation, further reshaping electoral calculations and strategic alliances.
In conclusion, as Srinagar Parliamentary constituency prepares for the LokSabha polls on May 13 in the fourth phase, Kashmir’s electoral landscape stands at a crossroads, echoing the region’s enduring quest for identity, autonomy, and self-determination. Against the backdrop of transformative political events post the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir’s electoral discourse resonates with deeper socio-political aspirations, shaping the contours of the forthcoming elections. The outcomes of these elections will not only determine parliamentary representation but also reflect the region’s evolving political dynamics and aspirations, thus underscoring the enduring significance of Kashmiri political narratives in the national discourse.

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