Restart political process
It has been one year since the government of India did away with the Article 370 of Indian Constitution, that gave a special status to then Jammu and Kashmir state among the rest of the states. The state was bifurcated into two union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. However, Jammu and Kashmir was declared a UT with Assembly. Without going into the debate that whether GoI’s decision was constitutional or not; legal or not; moral or not, one thing that need to be taken note of is that since Aug 05, 2019, there has been no political movement in Jammu and Kashmir on any front. Most of the leaders of mainstream political parties were detained post August 05 and some of the still remain in custody. Absence of these leaders from the scene resulted into absence of politics in the UT and such absence can, in no way, be good for the health of a democracy. Democracy is battle of ideas. All the political players, keeping the interest of the people and the nation paramount, have their own ways of looking at the situation and hunting for the answers to the questions haunting their people. Approaches could be different, ideologies could be different, modus operandi could be different but the goal remains the same – working for welfare of people and the nation. These differences are what make democracy a beautiful concept.
In this backdrop, what J&K today needs is a political process. Bureaucratic rule, no matter how efficient it would be, can never be a substitute to a popular government. The political leaders are connected with masses, they know their aspirations and grievances in a better way which bureaucrats can’t have an idea about. Even small time political workers of a village are more connected to the masses than SDMs and Tehsildars. Need is to strengthen the politics, provide a healthy atmosphere wherein a political process takes routes afresh. There is a huge difference between the rulers, mandated by the public to rule, and the rulers, appointed by the Centre to rule. The former are the ones who could be described as representatives of the public and thus they should be on the wheel while making decisions for the public good.
Ideally, following the re-organisation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the GoI should have geared up for holding elections to the UT assembly. However, one year down the line, nothing of the sort has happened and whether the powers, that be, like it or not, people of Jammu and Kashmir are unrepresented from last one year. Whatever decisions are being made have no or very little input from the people of Jammu and Kashmir and that is not how it should be. The government of India, without losing any more time, in consultation with Election Commission of India, should make arrangements for a smooth, fair, free and credible election. Let people elect their representatives and let those representatives speak on their behalf.