Let people elect their own government
The Election Commission has initiated the revision of electoral rolls following the delimitation exercise in the union territory and the draft rolls will be prepared by August 31. In this regard directions have been passed to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer to map the redrawn Assembly constituencies. Directions have also been given for the appointment of officials for the work on updating voter list. Sources privy to the information have revealed that re-serialisation, mapping and renaming of polling stations post the delimitation will be done by June 30, in addition to the identification of polling stations for those villages where new booths need to be created as after the delimitation, some of the earlier polling stations may come under more than one new constituency or may be completely shifted to another constituency. Last month, the central government had issued a notification saying that the orders of the Delimitation Commission which redrew electoral constituencies and provided six additional Assembly seats to Jammu division and one to Kashmir would come into effect from May 20.
The delimitation commission has finalized its delimitation order and has reserved nine seats for the ST’s. It has also ensured that all the five parliamentary seats of the UT have equal number of assembly constituencies and has increased six assembly seats in Jammu and one in Kashmir division thus taking the total number of seats to 90 (43, Jammu; 47, Kashmir). The commission has renamed some constituencies and rearranged the areas in some of the segments but has ensured that the lowest administrative unit, Patwar Circle is not broken.
Recently, Lok Sabha was told that holding of elections in Jammu is the prerogative of the Election Commission and the Commission alone can decide when to go for the democratic exercise. That said, it is common knowledge that Election Commission, while making such decisions, takes into the consideration the inputs by the respective governments too. The government in Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Government have repeatedly emphasising that post August 05, 2019, the security and the law and order situation in the UT has changed and improved for the better and therefore, the governments should convey the same understanding to the Election Commission.
The government of India has been asserting that once the delimitation process is complete, elections will be held in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Now the ball lies in its court. Jammu and Kashmir needs a democratic set-up and people need to be given a chance to exercise their democratic right to choose their representatives. A bureaucratic government, no matter how efficient it may be, can never ever be a replacement of democratically elected government. India is the largest democracy of the world and it can’t afford to deny the people of Jammu and Kashmir right to elect their own representatives. Now that the delimitation process is complete, there should be no further delay in holding elections here. In fact it is now overdue and the UT can’t be left to be governed by bureaucrats for eternity.
Like other parts of the country, the people of Jammu and Kashmir too aspire and deserve to be partners in their own governance. Panchayat, BDC and DDC elections can’t be used as an excuse to further delay the assembly elections. Now that the Election Commission has initiated the revision of electoral rolls, It is high time that the government of India gives a go ahead to the Elections Commission to gear up for assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir so that peoples’ basic democratic rights are restored.