Punchayat Elections 2012
Something has gone wrong somewhere
What was being described as a `historic' accomplishment; holding of genuine panchayat elections in 2011 is becoming a liability in 2012, as those who contested and got elected, ignoring the boycott call of separatists, have started putting in their papers. Apparently the resignation of the elected panches and sarpanches from their elected positions are under the threat of militants.
Something has gone wrong somewhere. That wrong needs to be identified and fixed. It is not a simple security related issue that security agencies can resolve. The whole problem is being looked at through security prism, which would only strengthen the argument of those who feel that the heavy military presence should be continued in the Valley and nothing can be achieved without their footprints on the ground. A larger picture is being missed.
First, why those who were aware of the presence of militants and their gun power at the time of elections, did not flinch. There were threats that time too. The year 2011 was a period of more uncertainty than 2012 is. Over this one year, something has gone wrong, which is not being acknowledged by anyone, and no particular individual or party is to be blamed. It is a collective failure.
This year has got a foundation of relative certainty because of the 2011, which stands out because of the panchayat elections more than the footfalls of tourists and Amarnath pilgrims. There were threats that time too. But those threats were neutralized by 76 per cent participation of the people in the polls.
The 2011 will go down in the history of Kashmir as the first most peaceful and fearless year since 1990 for the residents of the Valley. The militancy had erupted that year A fair amount of demonstration of will to fight atmosphere of fear was seen in the long queues of voters.There is lurking fear of that atmosphere staging a come back. That doesn’t need knowledge of rocket science to predict that. It can be adduced by the sheer number of resignations that have made it to the headlines in newspapers and T V channels.
Second part is more horrifying. Those who voted and elected their representatives during the panchayat elections are bound to feel demoralized, not just by the resignations of their panches and sarpanches, but also by their fading faith in the democratic institutions. That spells a greater threat, even if the militants don’t fire even a single shot. This should not have happened, because the people have invested in the panchayats so much that even a single misstep can prove disastrous. At this point, the problem can be resolved, tomorrow would be too late.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had started an exercise of visiting each of the 87 Assembly constituencies, which is yet to be completed, and interacting with the elected panches and sarpanches. That had given a sense of empowerment to them, much before the official claim that the powers of 14 departments had been transferred to their institutions. His message was clear : “ You have been elected, and now it is your responsibility to deliver. Your success is mine success and your failure would also reflect on me.” It is not known what have they delivered on the ground, but what they have delivered is, their resignations.
A firm indication of this thing coming was in the air. That was not checked in time, and the results are there for all to see. Still things can be checked, the security cover is only one part of the answer to the problem that is staring at the moment. But larger issue needs to be addressed. That is how the democratic institutions should be saved. Simply holding of elections is not an end in itself. The road ahead is rough and tough because the basic structure of the grassroots democracy is yet to reach its final stage and the things have started showing cracks at the qualifying level.
Thirdly, it is easy to engage in the political blame game. The political parties have overqualified in this art. What is needed is a long-term strategy. While it is true that the Assembly or panchayat elections are not an end solution to Kashmir problem, it is also true that these polls and participation of the people in large numbers represents aspirations – have those aspirations been addressed. That’s the moot question.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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