We need an elected Government

B L Saraf
Politics   of  the issue apart and making due allowance for  incongruity of the argument, by and large, people in J &K have   pleasant memories of the period when they were ruled, directly, by the Governors. They still remember the period of 1986-87 which saw a fair amount of developmental activities  happening  across the state, when ruled by the Governor.  Vast majority of the  people feel that it was the Governor’s rule  (1990–96) which brought the state from the brink, without much collateral damage. And, who can forget the summer of 2008 when, thanks to unnecessary  Amarnath  land row, two regions   stood  up against each other   almost to the dismemberment of   the State. It was  the imaginative and unbiased  display of the administrative  capabilities of the Governor  that saved the situation and managed the ruffled emotions of the people, living on either side of the Jawahar Tunnel.  Add to it,  the  profligacy of our elected representatives and   their  habit of rough shod  drive   over a common man people will feel  more comfortable with the rule of Governor than that of the elected persons . But then in a democracy real power flows from the elected political executive. Governor’s rule   may  be  benevolent  in   some respects but in J&K it is hemmed in by the peculiar geo-  political considerations. People tend to see it a direct rule from the centre.
The art and science of government is embedded in the rock of  politics. Governance when called civil administration becomes polity. There is no gain  saying that peace, order and good governance are the ultimate goal of a democratic  polity. In  theory  and practice   the art of governance is preordained in an art of  practicing politics. And, that demands a government  by the elected. We have gone through a major  ‘war’  to save the state and the country. Democracy for us  is, therefore, a prized  possession to be cherished. Elected Government at the helm, along with its short comings, is still preferable.
We follow  a constitutional scheme where Governor’s Rule cannot fit  in for a longer period.Because, this Rule is premised on the  fact that “ Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution……….” Section   92   of Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. Therefore, a   Governor rule, though sanctioned by the Constitution,  is indication of an abnormality in the governance, which   can’t   be perpetuated. Effectively,  for the provisions of the Constitution to flow freely, it  is the elected Council of Ministers – headed by the Chief Minister  that has  to govern the State.  Section 35 ibid
One of the major demands of the federalism is that a federating state should have its own   way  in the matter of  governance. For a state like J&K  which, vis –a vis Centre, has certain psychological and emotional  issues to contend with, it becomes all the more necessary that it should have its own Government. Discontent is simmering in the Valley’s  political circles. There is a visible down turn in the security  scenario. Militants are having a fair run. Incidents of Kakapora and  Pampore  are   clear indicators. What is disturbing is that people have started to come out   in support of the armed mercenaries when ever cornered  by the security forces. The situation   has the making of early nineties of the last century.  Unfortunately,  civilians are falling victims in the cross- fire .  Summer is at the door; we don’t know what it will bring along with. One can only hope that  it won’t  be  a summer    of    the discontent.
The emerging scenario calls for a political response than a pure security one. For that we need  elected people  to come on the streets to counsel patience and restraint. In Kashmir we are witnessing how in  a  pure bread and butter issue like   ration supply   the separatists  see a chance to further their  agenda. The Food Security Act  is being used as a trigger. As electricity charges were used to raise people’s passions in 1980s,  latter to be converted into a full scale war against  the state and India. If the FSA issue is not  addressed  properly  it could go the electricity charges way of 1980s.  Role  is  thus  cut out  for the political leadership.
The arithmetic of the present Assembly is such as to make it  politically and administratively  most convenient for PDP  and BJP to tie  up  the thread of governance   at the point it got snapped  due to  the untimely  demise of Mufti Sayeed. No other possible political arrangement could ensure proper representation  of  both the regions in the matter of governance.  These two parties will have to show political maturity  and be accommodative to each others’ concerns   which, though,  should be subservient to the  bigger concerns of  state and the country.  Two months of Governor rule should be sufficient for them to have   revisited the Agenda Of Alliance,  if required , added a point here or deleted one  there. Election at this  stage would be a last thing  that  our state can  not afford. And, for sure,  no political party would  want it now.
In  J &K, security situation has always been fragile . There are enough fault lines under the surface; no one knows  which  one will explode and when , to engulf the state. Afzal Guru episode in JNU  could be  the igniter.  Restoration of popular Government may preempt  it  from blowing  up.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge )


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