Panchayat elections,a new hope
Let’s keep our fingers crossed
IMPRESSIONS BY BINOO JOSHI
A big question facing the people of Jammu and Kashmir today is, have the institutions in the state become irrelevant. The turmoil of the past 20 years battered the already shaky prestige of the institutions. Some of these institutions are tottering. It is not because of one or two individuals, nor it is the failure of one era or the other. There has been a collective failure. It is something bitter and very difficult to acknowledge because each regime has something to boast of, but the fact is that we are caught in a situation where the institution building has become the foremost challenge for one and all. It should also be acknowledged that there are plenty of good intentions and somehow those intentions have been obscured by the turmoil, which has acquired different definitions and interpretations over the years and there is a particular fondness for putting forward a particular line of argument by each of the sides. In this battle of arguments, it is forgotten that collapse of the institutions is doing more damage to the people and place which these groups claim to be representing or championing the cause of the same.
The scene, however, is not as dismal as it may appear to be to naked eye. A micro-look would reveal that there are far deeper scenes which have not surfaced or those have been overlooked by the eyes having a squint. But what cannot be denied is that there are challenges and challenges . There is no need to be cowed down by the challenges, howsoever tall those may be, as opportunities are running parallel to these challenges on the ground or propping up with the times. A simple reason for that is that the competing political groups have settled for slugging it out on the rhetoric rather than on substance. Holier than thou attitude has done no good to the people of this beleaguered state, nor to its image. As a result, the ground is lost and much of the time is lost in regaining the ground, rather than consolidating it. The time lost in these self consuming slogans is never regained. Again, this is a bitter truth.
Big or small, but there is a good news on the horizon. And that good news is, ongoing panchayat elections in the state. This is not all about the voters turn out, nor about how these would be viewed outside the state, or how much empowerment would be bestowed on panchas and sarpanches, or how much loss of power would be suffered by ministers or MLAs. It is about the fact that there is an urge to have institutions. Panchayats offer institutions at the grassroots level and there is no substitute to such democratic institutions which concern the men and women living in Teetwal, Khalsi, Nagri, Parole, Handwara, Mattan or Pattan. That this step has been taken after a wait of almost one decade, practically after more than three decades, speaks for the fact that how long this institution was not on the political, social and economic map of Jammu and Kashmir and people had almost forgotten about something called Panchayats, for them the cavalcades of ministers and MLAs had become the faces of democracy, which one can say without hesitation, in most of the cases and on most of the occasions, would mean democracy in stratosphere.
A word of caution. These elections, in no way, are related to Kashmir solution. The people have made it clear. Voters outside the polling booths stated it emphatically that they were essentially voting for sadak bijli pani, and their vote is not an expression of their political ideology. They have also warned against their vote being studied as part of their willingness to accept something that they have resisted so far. The resistance is there, so is daily life. It, however, can offer an opening in throwing a new leadership at the grassroots level. This leadership would be real leadership, where there would be no doubts about the manipulated mandate because the number of voters is so less and the contests are so keen that the local monitoring would do a far better job than the officials assigned for the purpose. Whether this fact is holding on the ground or not, the non-party basis polls have also made a difference. Of course, there are candidates sponsored by National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Congress, BJP, Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party, Peoples Democratic Front, Jammu Kashmir Democratic Party ( Nationalist) and so many other groups. If some reports are to be believed that some of the groups that have been staying away from the polls, too have jumped into fray. The non-party basis has given them a perfect alibi in doing what they could not dare to do in the past 20 years or so.
It is no denying the fact that Jammu and Kashmir has got bright leadership, having wonderful ideas – some of them are bright because of their vision, others are connected to the people and then there are others who have displayed their acumen for taking courageous steps in the odd of adversities and stood their ground. This leadership bubbling with extreme talent and potential has come nowhere in showing their real self. Something, somewhere has hobbled them and they are caught in their self created world. One of the problems with this leadership is that they don’t have the reliable leaders at the grassroots level. So they have to depend on the leaders that have developed their own veste4d interests and work more in stalling the processes instead of facilitating the same. They have disappointed their constituents and frustrated their leaders. Panchayat elections, it is certain. Will throw the new leadership at the grassroots level and that can help resolve many problems. But, for the moment, let’s keep our fingers crossed. The elections are yet to reach even the midway.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 25 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 25 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 26 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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