It is a kind of festive season with electoral event happening in JKUT in the form of DDC elections in post independence era after Article 370 and 35-A having been sent into oblivion through a legitimate parliamentary process. People are visibly in high spirits as truly reflected in the four phases of impressive polling turnout. The common folks in the rural and sub-urban areas are experiencing it as a soothing respite from the raging pandemic coupled with excitement over devolution of power and authority flowing from the barrel of democracy to the grass root level. They have started visualising the political empowerment by virtue of well organised village Panchayats as per ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ contained in the constitution for their ultimate betterment and socio- economic transformation. Though belatedly the Gandhian concept of Gram Swaraj is certainly getting systematically translated into a reality. Abraham Lincoln, a strong politician and former US President who believed in unity and Democratic system of Governance had proclaimed, ‘Democracy is Govt of the people, by the people and for the people.’ It is, therefore, a path-breaking political thinking and strategy to empower the village folks by constituting panchayats, BDC as well as Distt. Dev. Councils by way of valid electoral excercise. This has further strengthened people’s belief in democracy and probably will deliver effective Governance at their door-step. In the long run it will also prove highly productive with huge dividends in terms of emancipation of common masses from poverty and socio- cultural exploitation.With all the satisfaction and positive mindset in relation to the ongoing electoral exercise being conducted by the UT Govt ensuring full scale security arrangements for free and fair polls together with overwhelming response of the voters for exercising their franchise in this unique event, I would like to emphasise that focal point of this first time DDC election must be development and nothing else. It is truly the catchword or the buzzword which has eluded our rural as well as semi-urban brethren since the dawn of Independence in the country. In my personal viewpoint the maiden DDC election should have been held on non-party basis just for a trial for the purpose of selecting quality candidates capable of getting promptly acclimatised with the system to provide the best of Governance to their fellow travellers, subsequently we could easily switch over to the party system which is by and large lopsided and divisive in the current scenario. However, it is not the time to ponder over much on the issue but to focus on the core subject of comprehensive Development which has the potential to revolutionise and transform the life of masses in the under-developed segments of society. It is not the sole responsibility of the union Govt or UT Govt but includes other key players such as Administration, police and paramilitary forces, political workforce and leaders of different parties and the common masses coupled with corrupt and immoral practices, black money, diversionary tactics to mislead people by resorting to emotional Blackmail of eligible voters who happen to be real hub of this electoral festival. Being the first ever electoral exercise of its kind, the voters in the countryside may be more vulnerable to nasty exploitation. This aspect needs be carefully watched and looked into.In view of the fact that voters are required to elect their representatives for constituting District Development Councils which shall be duty bound, responsible and accountable for foolproof development of the area under their jurisdiction for the whole chunk of population, therefore, they have to shrug off partisan politics and devote their time, development funds and valuable services for their designated constituency as one entity. First priority must aim at selecting the best candidate out of the available stuff who is bit reasonably educated, social service-oriented and possesses leader-like qualities. This precaution has to be observed by the selection committee of the respective parties. In various elections, held in our country from time to time it is most often seen that negative factors like nepotism, money power, caste based lobbying become the predominant factors and real issues are consigned to the back seat rendering the entire electoral exercise as unproductive. This DDC election juggernaut is all about development of Districts as such the canvassing and campaigning must remain restricted to the diverse contours of Development and no other superfluous issues. Even National or International issues must not be the significant part of the campaign. The campaign by the prominent local political workers and leaders shall be more relevant and meaningful. Sincere effort may be made to ensure that the genuine rural voters do not get misled and swayed in the ongoing big electoral event of paramount importance. Needless to mention that voters eligible to cast their vote in the DDC elections have a very significant, constructive and positive role to play in this phenomenal battle of vote and ballot. They will be well advised to be extra vigilant and careful while casting their vote. Shun the parochial approach, stay focussed on the plank of development. Do not play second fiddle to the respective parties but evolve consensus on the best candidate who is capable of delivering under the challenging circumstances. Moreover, take precautions to keep the caste factor aside. Just concentrate on potential leadership and service acumen. It is admitted fact that most of the districts are by and large underdeveloped. A lot needs be done on the front of better road connectivity, satisfactory educational facilities including self sufficient schools, issues relating to agriculture sector and farmers also need special attention with regard to quality seeds, irrigation, agriculture labour and revival of dying water bodies in the villages. Govt agencies and genuine NGOs and the saner elements can play a pioneering role in educating the village folks to realise their strength and contribute maximum on this front so that effective DDCs are elected and aspirations of having empowered grass root democratic institutions in place are complied with. Historian Will Durant had said, “After all, when one tries to change institutions without having changed the nature of men, that unchanged nature will soon resurrect those institutions.”Puran Sharma
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