Assembly elections are overdue

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While the election machinery in Jammu and Kashmir is gearing up for the conduct of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir following the report submitted by the Delimitation Commission, people in general are very optimistic and hopeful that there would not be any further delay in restoring democracy in the Union Territory in its true sense. There are amble indications that the government has made up its mind to hold elections in J&K that has been without an Assembly since November 2018 when the then Legislative Assembly was dissolved by then Governor Satya Pal Malik after the PDP-BJP coalition government fell apart earlier that year. The Centre as well as the Lieutenant Governor administration here have been saying that the Assembly elections in the UT would be conducted after the process of delimitation and electoral revision is completed. The delimitation of constituencies was completed earlier this year and the Election Commission began the process of electoral rolls revision in the union territory last month — an exercise taking place after a gap of three years and for the first time since the abrogation of J&K’s special status in August 2019. People here are hopeful that elections would be held here once the electoral rolls revision is completed. It may be recalled here that the Election Commission of India has set October 31 as the final date for publication of the revised electoral rolls that indicates that the elections may be held by the year end or early next year.

The Union government has been repeatedly saying that elections will be held one the delimitation process is complete and after its completion, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on June 17 said there is a possibility of holding the polls “by this year-end”. Earlier this month, LG Manoj Sinha too had said that the elections will “surely” take place after the completion of the electoral roll revision. Similarly, the Prime Minister and the country’s Home Minister have said it many times in Parliament that elections (in Jammu and Kashmir) will take place. In this backdrop, peoples’ optimisim regarding holding of elections doesn’t seem unfounded.

India is the largest democracy of the world and it can’t afford that a small region within its territory doesn’t have a right to reap the fruits of self governance. Like other parts of the country, people of Jammu and Kashmir have every right to decide who should run the affairs of their government. Now matter how efficient a bureaucratic rule may be, it can’t and should not be substituted for self governance. Right now Kashmir is run by those who are not elected representatives. There is a huge gap between those who rule and those who are being ruled. People feel helpless as there are no representatives to whom they could approach with their grievances and problems. They feel unrepresented, and  genuinely so. Their voices are not being heard and even for smaller issues, they have to turn to bureaucrats who the history of Indian bureaucracy, are more concerned about their APRs instead of resolving peoples’ issues.

In this backdrop, it is necessary that election to the assembly are held as soon as possible so that the democracy in J&K is restored and people are given a chance to elect their own representatives in who they have faith and to whom they have free access.

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