OPINION

Updated May 26th, 2024 at 13:01 IST

Centrifugal Winning Over Centripetal This Election

If every election has a sentiment, for me 2024 was about those forces pulling the nation together and winning over those that sought to pull apart.

Abhishek Kapoor
The Battle For Delhi | Image:Republic
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If every election has a sentiment, for me 2024 was about those forces pulling the country together proving stronger and winning over those that sought to pull apart. 

BUT for the 60 odd seats of phase seven, the 2024 general elections are pretty much over. Sixth phase continued the good news from Kashmir. The Anantnag-Rajouri seat that voted Saturday recorded its highest turnout post 1987. At over 50 per cent, the participation was more than Mathura where Hema Malini couldn’t break the voter ennui. Baramulla in North Kashmir had voted more than all six seats of the Mumbai metropolitan region in the fifth phase polling.  

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Also in Kashmir, Maulvi Umar Farooq – whose Friday sermons from the Jama Masjid would be followed by the weekly stone pelting ritual till 2019 - appealed for all to vote this election. GM Hubbi, former general secretary of the erstwhile United Hurriyat Conference – once an acolyte of Syed Ali Shah Gilani of Hartal calendars fame - said he would go out and vote. “Can’t claim to represent people if we don’t face hustings,” he is quoted as saying. Hubbi was once part of the gang that, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, would bring out the hartal calendars disrupting normal life in the valley. Also in Kashmir, Jamaat e Islami announced its intentions to participate in democracy. They might get to do it soon. A big story missed in the campaign din was that Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not mention restoration of Article 370 in its manifesto!

From Kashmir to central India

 On Friday, Naxal groups in Chhattisgarh announced through a press release that they were ready for unconditional talks with the government. This comes on the back of a relentless crackdown that has targeted armed Naxal units in the Abujhmand area of Chhattisgarh, eliminating over 120 of them in encounters, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in the State in last year’s December elections. Union Home Minister Amit Shah made it his campaign pitch that left wing extremism would be fully eliminated from the country in early third term of the Modi government. For the first time since independence, 56 Bastar villages had a polling booth. In Palamu, 11 villages abutting the Budha Pahad area voted for the first times since the formation of the state of Jharkhand.

Let's go to Darjeeling in the east

Almost after three decades the issue of a separate state was silent with the leaders and the electorate alike. Gorkhaland protagonists – from Subhash Ghisingh protege Bimal Gurung to Vinay Tamang and Anit Thapa – all either faded or got coopted by mainstream political parties. Only in 2017 the region had seen 104 days of violence on the separate statehood issue. Gurung, who led those protests, was seen campaigning for the BJP in the hills this election. Both Tamang and Thapa have served as heads of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) since and got absorbed in the Trinamool fold.

While the entire narrative down South, particularly in Tamil Nadu, was about BJP’s inroads riding a Modi push and an Annamalai wave, what caught my attention was little known Bahujan Dravid Party (BDP) headed by a Tamil – Jeevan Singh Malla. Born Devendra Kula Vellar in Tamil Nadu, Malla converted to Sikhism and is contesting from Hoshiarpur in Punjab!

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If every election has a sentiment, for me 2024 was about centrifugal forces – those pulling the country together – proving stronger and winning over the centripetal – those that sought to pull apart. You need an x-ray when you are sick. An MRI is needed to diagnose an even more serious illness. When one goes for an x-ray or MRI, the state of mind is generally negative and there’s that feeling of being down in the dumps. As a society are we down in the dumps? Like really feeling low? If not, then you connect the dots with the examples above and you would get an exit poll. The exact one is anyway just 10 days away!

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Published May 26th, 2024 at 10:37 IST