Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted on Saturday that free and transparent DDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir coupled with voters' keen participation are a "moment of pride" for India, while hitting back at his rivals for giving him "lessons in democracy".
In a swipe at Rahul Gandhi, who alleged recently that there is no democracy in India, Modi said while his government has completed three-tier panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir in over a year of the region becoming a union territory, the Congress dispensation in Puducherry has not carried out local body elections despite a Supreme Court order.
Launching the Ayushman Bharat scheme via a video-conference to extend health insurance benefits to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir, he said the three-tier panchayat system has fully taken shape here, describing it as a realisation of Mahatma Gandhi's dream of 'gram swaraj' (village self-rule).
the nation on this occasion.
The district development council polls in Jammu and Kashmir have written a new chapter in the troubled region and have strengthened democracy, he said.
Noting that the people braved cold weather and the COVID-19 pandemic to enthusiastically participate in the election, the prime minister said he had heard from every political party about the high level of transparency during the polls and how free they were.
"I feel so proud… This is a moment of pride for India," he said, lauding the local administration and security forces.
These election results have thrown up victors, many of whom have come up from among the masses and who have won due to their work, not their name, he said, in a dig at "dynastic parties."
"This is the beginning of a new leadership of a new era in a new decade," he said.
He noted that the BJP was once a part of the government in the erstwhile state and added that it pulled out because the saffron party wanted panchayat elections to be held and people be given their rights. In these polls, people have left history behind and voted for a future of hope, he said.
The Centre has undertaken all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir, he added.
Modi said a big mistake of those who were in power for decades in the country was to ignore the development of border regions, including Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states, but his government has rectified this.
The setting up of IIT and IIM in Jammu and Kashmir would help in providing quality higher education to the students, he said, noting that two AIIMS and two cancer institutes are also being built in the union territory.