After the repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution, in the first major elections held in Jammu and Kashmir, the people of the valley passed a very important test and showed the world that there was, and will continue to be, democracy in the valley. While the BJP emerged as the largest party in the District Development Council (DDC) elections in the Jammu region, the BJP opened its account for the first time in the history of the Valley.
The People’s Alliance for Guptacar Declaration, consisting of 7 parties including Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, have done well in the Valley. This alliance is also known as the Gupta Alliance. At the same time, the most interesting thing in these elections was that a large number of independents also won.
Now that the verdict of the people has arrived, no one can allege that these elections were not free and fair. People in the Valley cast their votes in large numbers without any fear, the parties fought the elections openly, and after the results came out, not a single major leader had any complaints about the elections being free and fair.
The Gupakar coalition hoped that it would win a major victory in the DDC elections, but also failed to win a majority. The BJP contested alone and won 3 seats in the Kashmir Valley, while its candidates won a total of 72 seats in the Jammu region. In many constituencies of the valley, BJP lost by a very small margin. Surprisingly, a large number of independents won. They went among the common Kashmiris, promised them roads, electricity, water, schools and hospitals, and the people of Kashmir trusted them.
Overall, democracy has prevailed in these elections. Due to the threat of terrorists, votes were cast in a total of 8 phases. In places like Kulgam, 60 to 70 percent voting was done, which was never heard in recent times. Despite threats from separatists and terrorists, people came out of their homes and exercised their franchise. People in the valley were seen celebrating after the victory of their candidates.
The celebrations on the streets after the elections suggest that the movement of Kashmir has increased confidence in the democratic and political process. The common voter of Kashmir taught a lesson to those who were working on the agenda of their mentors sitting across the border. Common voters, and especially women, when they often came to vote, talked about their basic needs, such as electricity, water, schools and hospitals. A new party, Jammu and Kashmir Party, also emerged from among the people. This party was formed after the repeal of Article 370.
Senior leaders of the National Conference and PDP also admitted that free and fair elections have been held this time. This is a major achievement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His government promised to bring democracy in Jammu and Kashmir at the grassroots level at the earliest. The common people were fed up with the bandh called almost daily by the separatists. They were also saddened by the incidents of throwing stones at the security forces without any provocation.
I want to mention here that after the removal of Section 370 and declaring Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory, between 7 August 2019 and October 2020, an average of 30 km of roads are being built in rural areas every day. 212 roads and 38 small bridges have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. Smart classes are ready in the government schools of Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from this, at least 40 small and big power projects have been started to meet the power shortage.
Of course, a lot still needs to be done. Right now hospitals and primary health centers will have to be built and many homes still have no access to electricity. Theaters are in poor condition. Common people are still waiting for a good 4G network.
It is the responsibility of the Center and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to initiate development and welfare schemes at the earliest. It does not matter which political party is in power in the District Development Council. Leaders of all parties, NC, PDP, BJP or Congress, will have to join hands to bring peace and progress in the valley. This will be the biggest victory for both democracy and the people of Kashmir. (Rajat Sharma)
Watch: Aaj Ki Baat, complete episode with Rajat Sharma ‘December 22, 2020