Concept of Democracy in J&K reduced to local bodies polls: Harsh Dev

Udhampur:   “With the Election Commission of India apparently focussed on holding elections in the five states of the country next year besides conducting bye-Elections in several other states this year, the restoration of democratic govt in UT of J&K seemed to be the last priority of the GOI as well as the ECI. All discussions on restoration of democracy are ultimately directed towards the so-called successful conduct of Panchayat and Municipal polls. The concept of democracy in BJP rule has been reduced to local bodies polls with no sincere effort having been made to install an elected govt in J&K. The BJP govt had made the J&K elections conditional upon the completion of delimitation exercise which appears to have gone in limbo. The Delimitation Commission which was formed in March, 2020 with a tenure of one year had merely conducted one meeting with Associate members during its original term thereby necessitating its extension for additional one year. And though the said Commission comprising even the Chief Election Commissioner of India visited J&K in June last to take the feedback from various stakeholders assuring early completion of the process, not a word was heard in this regard from the said body during the past around three months. With the ECI now concentrating on holding Elections in various other states of the country much before the expiry of the term of the respective govts therein, the erstwhile state of J&K deprived of democratic govt for the last more than three years, the Assembly having been suspected and eventually dissolved in 2018, did not appear to be finding the desired attention of either the poll bodies or the centre”. This was stated by Mr. Harsh Dev Singh Chairman-JKNPP and former Minister while addressing public meetings in villages Thaplal and Sarsu in Ramnagar and Ghordi Blocks respectively.

Mr. Singh said that while delimitation of DDC constituencies in J&K was effected within one week by the present dispensation, the helmsmen had failed to come out with any convincing explanation for the inordinate delay in delimiting Assembly constituencies. He said that with delimitation delayed and denied, political process having been rendered defunct in J&K and political parties discredited and discouraged, the centre seemed to be hell-bent to deprive J&K of a democratically elected govt.

Asserting that the BJP govt at the centre seemed averse not only to  holding delimitation in J&K but also to Elections, Mr. Singh said that it wanted to continue its proxy rule in the new UT and retain all powers to itself. He said that the people of J&K were being deprived of their democratic rights of having a duly elected govt of their choice. The last elections in J&K having been held in 2014, the BJP govt still seemed dis-inclined to hand over power to the people even after a lapse of several years thus giving a fatal blow to the democratic values enshrined in the Indian constitution.

           With the last Assembly having been dissolved three years back, the elections to legislature were required to be held immediately thereafter in consonance with the rule of law. The BJP regime however not only defied the democratic norms and procedures but also overlooked the basic law enunciated by the Supreme Court which envisaged holding of “Assembly elections within 6 months in all states where Assemblies were prematurely dissolved”.

            With uncertainty looming large over the delimitation of constituencies, the UT of J&K was doomed to be governed by proxies from outside the state having hardly any accountability to the masses whom they ruled.