Get down to work now

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District Development Council (DDC) elections are over. Results have been declared to the 278 seats out of 280. Everybody is reading the verdict as it suits its political philosophy. These debates may continue for some time but what is really important is that elections were held, by and large, in a peaceful and fair manner and the people too responded by voting in good numbers thus reposing their trust in the process of democracy. Democracy is all about peoples’ participation and that is what has ben missing in Jammu and Kashmir once the last elected government run by PDP and BJP collapsed. Since then people have directly been ruled by New Delhi having no public representatives that could give voice to their concerns and issues. However, administrations decision of holding DDC elections has once again put the political process on the rails. The Lt. Governor administration needs to be appreciated for smooth conduct of polls. Though there have been some complaints registered by some contesting parties, by and large the poll process remained free and fair. Given past experience of some elections, security was what worried most of the people. However, barring a few incidents, election process concluded in a very peaceful manner.

The powers, that be, need to appreciate peoples’ keenness to see a vibrant political process in place in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Need is to make the DDCs operational without any delay and allow these grass-root elected bodies to work for the development of the Union Territory. While the establishment of three-tier panchayati raj is appreciable and it undoubtedly is going to take the democracy and its fruits to the basic units – villages – holding of these elections alone is not enough to strengthen the democratic institutions in Jammu and Kashmir. The government at the centre should now move another step forward and make preparations for assembly elections. Though two main mainstream regional parties seem skeptical about holding of assembly elections, the government needs to get down working and accelerating the pace of political process, started with DDC elections. People of Jammu and Kashmir, like the people in rest of the country, have every right to have a vibrant democracy in place and for that they need initiation of a broader political process which is holding of assembly elections. Let people have their own elected representatives to speak for them not the bureaucrats whose understanding of governance is confined to files and their respective APRs. Let people be given a chance, at the earliest, to breath in a vibrant political and democratic atmosphere.

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