New Mayor – challenges & opportunities
Now that Junaid Azim Mattu of Peoples Conference (PC) has won the Mayoral election, the verdict has thrown a big challenge to both Mattu and his party and equally has come as a big opportunity for the both. Challenge, because Srinagar city has all along been a victim of rhetorical politics. The two major political parties – National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have all along tried to blame each other for behaving ‘step-motherly’ with Srinagar. Without going into the debate regarding which party did what for this one time beautiful city (it was referred to as Venice of Asia), it goes without saying that this capital city has suffered a lot on all fronts. From drainage to water supply; from road connectivity to power supply, this city cuts a sorry figure. So bad is the drainage system that a little drizzle and the entire city turns into a pool of dirty water. Several city areas face acute drinking water problems during peak summer and winter seasons and no long term solution have ever been thought of. Same is the case with its roads. Everywhere one looks, there are pathetic scenes of traffic mess. It takes you hours to drive a distance of just a few kilometers within city. And when it comes to power supply, the recent snowfall impact is there for all to see. Transmission lines have been laid down in such a manner that a few inches of snow and all these come crumbling down. These are the major challenges that would be looking right in the face of the new Mayor and his party, PC, right from the go.
However, at the same moment, the verdict comes as a great opportunity for both PC and Mattu. Till now, PC was seen as party based in Kupwara district having some influence in some other parts of north Kashmir. The ULB polls have ensured party’s entry into the heart of Kashmir – the Srinagar. So here lies the opportunity for the party leadership to prove its mettle. It is an opportunity for the party leadership to prove that it has endurance, necessary skills and abilities to succeed in its mission of giving a visible face-lift to Srinagar. The verdict also provides an opportunity to newly elected Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu to prove his worth. He is a well educated and well meaning gentleman and therefore people will expect him to be somewhat different from the lot that has been running affairs of Srinagar earlier. With his educational capital and his exposure, he is expected to think of some out of the box solutions to the chronic ailments of the Srinagar city.
That said, Srinagar awaits a change – a very positive, constructive and visible change. Let the new Mayor and his party be mindful of Srinagar’s some realities which go unnoticed. We have pathetic poverty in certain pockets of Srinagar city. While in rural Kashmir, economically weaker areas are declared as Backward and thus have certain schemes for economic uplift, Srinagar’s poor populace goes unnoticed. This section of the populace should be the first and foremost priority of new Mayor and his party.