Disempowered Panchayats, Delayed Municipal Polls
‘HOPE’ BY JUNAID AZIM MATTU
Destiny has been a brilliant illusionist when it comes to Kashmiris. From the Late Sheikh Sahab’s Plebiscite Front to the hyped allure of a young Chief Minister’s dynamism – we have been served one irony after the other, expected to adapt to the most unreasonable consequences of our State, its subjects and their souls mortgaged for the fortunes of two families.
We are now under the magnanimous rule of Abdullah the Third, God Bless his crown and royal court. His ascent to the throne was marketed as the empowerment of Kashmir’s youth, as if empowerment of common folk is a yardstick of leadership in monarchies! This Government has gone from boasting about a high turnout in Panchayat elections to ensuring that it pulls out every reason and excuse out of its hat to delay the most minimal empowerment of the Panchayat System in Jammu & Kashmir. Now, less than a month after this government stated that it had instructed the Election Commissioner to ensure that Civic Polls are held by the end of this month. It took the government less than a fortnight to realize that tourists flock to Kashmir in the summers and it would be hard to orchestrate a poll boycott in the midst of the tourist season. Yes-men in the business fraternity were summoned and asked to raise a “spontaneous” alarm over the timing of the civic polls. Another effective postponement of an unpopular government being confronted with the ground reality. Well played!
I wonder what is the official “people-friendly” excuse for not empowering the Panchayats? Perhaps something to do with the tourism season as well! While the rest of India is witnessing an egalitarian economic and infrastructural boon through decentralized politics, J&K has been sentenced to the service of Abdullahs and Muftis and the two “parties” they hold the ownership documents for. Both NC and PDP have ensured that the decentralization of politics in J&K, either through empowered Panchayats or Civic Polls remains a pipe dream. It’s been three years that the present government has been in power for. Three tourist seasons as excuses, three winters as climatic constraints for not holding civic polls. In this heavenly, allegedly accountability-free State – there is no dearth of excuses for malfeasance, negligence and manipulation. And there will always be people who will jump up to summons and enact a dramatic theater of anxiety and concern to validate an unpopular government’s evasive measures.
The hundred thousand stray dogs of Kashmir have been given an extension in lieu of the tourist season. Tourists, Kashmiris and stray dogs will have to co-exist in peace and harmony because we have a dynamic government that is apprehensive about Kashmir erupting in flames because of the outrageous possibility of civic polls being misconstrued as a political heresy by the unreasonable, irrational and impulsive people of this State. The same unreasonable, irrational and impulsive people of Kashmir who flocked to election booths during panchayat elections. Around that time this government took credit for “ensuring” that the panchayat elections were held without any untoward incidents. But a year or so later, Kashmiris have been diagnosed with endemic aggressiveness and radicalism by our rulers.
When will New Delhi realize that NC and PDP have perhaps done what Hurriyat and separatists couldn’t do with equal effectiveness – alienate the people of this state and make them cynical about empowerment and democracy? Two families have been blessed with a patronage that has pushed millions of Kashmiris farther away towards negativity and hopelessness. A political system that takes 8 years for the completion of an overpass on one of the major intersections on the national highway, is clueless about the disastrous and uncontrollable reign of rabid, stray dogs in its towns and cities and is neck deep in corruption, scams and mistrust has been given a carte blanche by the powers that be – evade the result of misrule and anti-incumbency as long as you don’t fester and sponsor turmoil in the State.
Delhi has been held hostage to a political blackmail – Kashmir is a sensitive house of cards – empower the people of this State and they will choose to come out foaming and frothing on the streets rather than voting an unpopular government out of its slumber. This is the story of Kashmir – the story of NC and PDP excusing its way to feudalism and then reaping the dividends of manipulative projections about Kashmiris and “ground realities”. This is the story of Delhi refusing to acknowledge the role of our Muftis and Abdullahs in catalyzing and consolidating political alienation in Kashmir – of bartering peace for power and blackmailing its own people and the powers in Delhi about the impending possibility of unrest in Kashmir.
(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Srinagar District President of Peoples’ Conference. Ideas expressed are personal. Feedback on email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 20 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 20 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 21 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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