Make DDCs functional

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Lt Governor Manoj Sinha in his address to the people on the eve of Republic Day appreciated all concerned for helping smooth conduct of District Development Council (DDC) elections and asserted that not a single drop of blood was shed during these elections. One can’t but agree with the Lt Governor’s assertion. Given the volatility of the post August 2019 situation, people were apprehensive about the conduct of the elections with threat of violence looming large. However, the administration deserves a pat for succeeding in conducting a violence free election. Results have been declared and all concerned contesting parties are reading the verdict as it suits their 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 been 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. The conduct of DDC elections has once again put the political process on the rails.

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. For that to happen, the government need to quicken the process of election of DDC chairmen. Official sources have indicated that the reservation of offices of DDC chairpersons are expected to be finalized in the first week of February and after that within 20 days, the elections for the post of chairmen would be help. If all goes well, by first week of March, the DDCs would be fully operational.

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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