Guv declares Govt’s determination to go ahead with local elections

‘Will give security to all contestants during, after the polls’

There is corruption in Admn, will come down heavily on it

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 9: Notwithstanding the boycott announcement by National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah, Governor Satya Pal Malik tonight expressed Government’s determination to go ahead with Municipal and Panchayat elections and declared that all contestants, polling booths and officials, will be provided full security cover by the State not only during but even after the polls.
Without naming anyone, Malik said some political parties have their own reasons, compulsions and problems within the party for shying away from the polls and added that he would break protocol to go to meet PDP president Mehbooba Mufti over lunch or dinner in next couple of days and persuade her not to drift away from the Municipal and Panchayat elections.
In an interview to Doordarshan tonight, Malik appeared determined and committed to hold Municipal and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir saying this will directly help the people as they will decide development of the area as it will be their own people at the helm and they won’t have to approach the officers for works of their localites.
“Some political parties have their own reasons and compulsions. Dr Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference president and former Chief Minister along with me spoke twice (in the functions) in support of elections and appealed people to come out to cast votes in Municipal and Panchayat elections. He even said that people don’t have to vote for the Government but for their own welfare,” he said.
The Governor recalled that when Mehbooba Mufti was the Chief Minister here, she had invited him over dinner. “I called her 3-4 days back and invited her over lunch. She told me she was going to Jammu and will be back in a day or two and urged me to come over the lunch. I’m ready to break protocol and go to her. I will urge her that she shouldn’t go away from the elections”.
Asserting that there was no major problem in holding local elections in the State, Malik, however, said it was only in some areas of South Kashmir that the militants have threatened the contestants but declared that the Government will firmly deal with such elements and provide full protection to candidates, polling officials and all those associated with the election process.
“This protection to the candidates and others will not only be confined up to elections but will be given even after the polls,” he said.
He assured to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the elections will be free and fair.
“Some alienation was also there among the people due to unfair elections in the past. I assure the people that elections will be completely free and fair,” he declared.
On Panchayat elections being linked with Government stand on Article 35-A in the Supreme Court, the Governor said he has made it clear that only a Government elected by the people will take a stand on the Article. “I have already taken a stand that hearing in the Supreme Court on Section 35-A should be deferred till the political Government is formed,” he added.
Malik declared that the Government will come down very heavily on corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have no problem to say that there was corruption in the administration in Jammu and Kashmir. We have taken action against 2-3 senior officers. The Government is examining the situation and will seize disproportionate assets of the officials. It is the share of the people, which the corrupt people are swindling. This can’t be tolerated,” he said.
Asked whether he would also act against “corrupt politicians”, Malik said: “We will make a system in which whosoever he is will be dealt with. The corruption flows from top to bottom”.
Significantly, the Governor admitted that there have been imbalances in development of Jammu and Ladakh regions.
“We want integration of the State. I assure that there will be equal development of all three regions of the State including Jammu and Ladakh,” he said.
Admitting alienation and anger among the people, Malik said there are people (in Kashmir), who neither like India nor Pakistan. “They are not satisfied even with our political parties. I will try to reach out to the people including youth”. In this context, he referred to engaging youth in sports, having Kashmir team in the IPL, holding musical concerts, inter-University tournaments etc.
He admitted that success won’t come immediately but said the Government will make inroads.
He said the Government was also trying to avoid a situation wherein 10,000 people join burial of one killed person and this crowd is also thronged by 10 militants. He urged people not to send their youth to the encounter sites.
Asserting that he will not interfere in the matters of security forces, Malik said Army has been operating in the Valley under very tough circumstances. He added that it was because of very effective coordination among security agencies like Army, BSF, CRPF, JKP and Intelligence agencies that Shri Amarnath Ji yatra was conducted peacefully as otherwise, the fidayeen had been roaming (to harm the yatra).
Replying to a question that he was first political Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 50 years, Malik said a political person can prove more beneficial to the people.
“I have acted on people’s complaints and grievances on WhatsApp, telephone or other modes of communication. We have a development plan in mind. Electricity supply will not be cut during important festivals and other such days. We will generate Rs 8,000 crore worth loan to complete pending projects within one year. Dal lake will be restored to pristine glory,” he said.