Have assembly polls in J&K lost importance?

Politicians tend to lose relevance when they fail to effectively deliver during their rule

Have the assembly polls lost importance in the changed atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir now? In past holding assembly elections here was always a top priority for the central government.

The wider participation of political parties and high poll percentage used to be very useful  in projecting at the national level  or outside that people in Jammu  and Kashmir are on the path of peace, development and democracy after rejecting the terrorism and death and destruction.

However, in changed scene  now it seems that the assembly  polls is not  the only indicator for getting the people's mood reflected and projected. Some  other  major indicators available  with the government right now are the elections for panchayats, urban local bodies ( ULBs), block development council (BDCs) and district development councils (DDCs), the significant improvement in the situation including complete end to stone pelting and hartals or bandhs, booming tourism sector,  launching and completion of  development projects and successful conduct of the meeting of the tourism related working group of G20 in Srinagar some months back. 

The central government is not denying the importance of assembly polls and keeps on saying that it is ready for the elections but the call has to be taken by election commission of India.

At the same time, the government has been highlighting as how the common man at the grassroots level was empowered democratically by holding panchayat, ULBs, BDCs and DDCs polls. Thousands of public representatives are directly involved  in decision making for the development of their respective  areas.

Officially it is being alleged that this  empowerment of common mases through grassroots level democracy was being denied by the previous governments and that only assembly polls were being prioritised so that the two political families Abdullahs and Muftis besides Gandhis (Congress) would get political power in Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP has been accusing NC, PDP and Congress of  indulging in corruption, nepotism and other malpractices during  their rule. However, the leadership of these parties have denied the charges.

The J&K regional parties say that if  having panchayats, ULBs, BDCs and DDCs is a justification for not holding assembly polls in time here then why assembly elections are being held in other parts of the country, which also have panchayats, ULBs and the like.

They allege that the delay in polls is an attempt to deny the people of Jammu and Kashmir  the right to elect the government of their choice. They also allege that since BJP fears that it will loss the polls, the elections are being delayed. On the other hand BJP says that it is  very much confident of getting a majority and having its leader as the next chief minister.

In past the central government would not bother which party comes to power in J&K as its main priority was holding of assembly polls and wider participation of people. But now the BJP leadership views that ruling of J&K by NC, PDP and Congress in the past had led to terrorism tendencies besides giving rise to misgovernance, corruption and nepotism.

BJP leadership feels that if their party has a government at the centre and in other states also, why can not it have its own government in J&K too. That is why efforts are being made to strengthen the party in Kashmir  in a big way and get the public support. The party leaders say that they have succeeded in their  efforts to a large extent and are hopeful of support in elections from the people in Kashmir. But their rival parties differ with their view.

BJP leaders have been stating  that their government at the centre and the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha's administration has brought a sea change in the overall situation and on development front.

The stone pelting has completely come to an end and so have the  hartals or bandhs and terrorism has been almost  wiped out, they add. Unlike past the government offices, educational institutions and shops and other business establishments and transport operate normally without any disruption.

The Lieutenant Governor with his pro-active role is increasing public reach-out with every passing day. He keeps on visiting different parts of Jammu and Kashmir,  meeting people, listening to their grievances and redressing those besides launching new development projects and schemes frequently . He is very much visible on the ground. The Lieutenant Governor has been saying that he is providing an accountable and corruption free administration to the people.

The Lieutenant Governor says if a survey is conducted to know the views of people,  one will find out that 80 percent of the population are happy with the working of his administration and want continuation of this system. According to him the rest 20 percent are unhappy since they do not get any chance now to indulge in corruption and other malpractices. However, some leaders have differed with his view and claimed that it is a justification for delaying the assembly polls.

But Lieutenant Governor says that the leaders of various parties here are upset with the popularity of his administration since they themselves were not sincere in serving the people during  their time and were  only interested in  vested interests, which proved disastrous for the situation and the lives of the common people.

Since the people are happy with the working of the present administration,  it is not being digested by some leaders and they feel uncomfortable, the Lieutenant Governor says. He states that  some politicians here repeatedly try to misinform and mislead the people on certain sincere measures of his government including ending encroachment on state land and land for the landless poor.

Media reports indicate that the central government leadership is fully backing and supporting the measures being taken by the Lieutenant Governor  to improve the situation, reach out to the masses and increase the pace of development.

The successful conduct of the meeting of tourism  related working group of G20 and the personal efforts of the Lieutenant Governor in hosting the  prestigious event and making it successful was hailed and appreciated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah a number of times.

Sometimes for political reasons or sometimes on merit,  the leaders of the regional parties keep on criticising the present administration. But it is also a fact that during their own rule there was a disconnect with common masses at times, which was later getting reflected in the assembly polls also.

When politicians fail to deliver during their rule, they tend to lose relevance and then they seeing other systems working makes them feel uncomfortable. Learning lessons from mistakes is important but in politics hardly a few try to do so. And the rest forget the bitter lessons while in power.

Sometimes, they commit and repeat the mistakes and blunders as has happened in Jammu and Kashmir in past during the era of elected governments.

Author is senior editor, Greater Kashmir.

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