Yet again, ballot wins over the bullet

Post scrapping of Article 370 and lapsing forever the special status, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a spectacular festival of celebrating democracy and the authority to exercise the most valuable right to vote for the first ever DDC elections. Not only from the percentage of voting recorded and the long queues of enthusiastic voters waiting for respective individual turn to cast vote and braving the threat of Corona virus pandemic but the entire peaceful and cordial atmosphere of the polling across the UT demonstrated the faith of the masses in the beauty of democratic process and empowering people at gross root levels. The ”chill” of the winter in Kashmir valley did not deter the people either from coming out of their cosy environs of homes to declare that the ballot was supreme and invincible compared to any type of violence or the proverbial “spears and swords”. The first phase of polling on 43 seats, 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu, recorded 52 percent polling which by all indicators, the weather conditions and the scare of the current pandemic put together is quite encouraging. Almost all the political parties including the BJP, Congress, National Conference, PDP, Apni Party, National Panthers Party, Bahujan samaj Party and other small groups have fielded their candidates for the elections to the DDCs.
Budgam recorded nearly 57 percent in Kashmir division while Reasi in Jammu division recorded nearly 75 percent voting proved the UT and the Central leadership right in deciding about holding first ever elections to District Development Council as did the holding of Panchayati and Urban Local Bodies’ elections. Elections in eight phases to the DDCs shall go on till December 19 while the results shall be out by December 22.
Those people who had been denied the right to vote for any of the elections concerning the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, the West Pakistani refugees numbering 1.5 lakh, exercised their right to franchise for the first time in 72 years which means for them the first ever political emancipation from an unjustified embargo rather a sort of political apartheid. However, Kashmiri migrants’ vote percentage remained the lowest as decision regarding facilities of special polling booths was reportedly taken late.
In Jammu region, in far flung areas like those in Kashmir valley, long queues of voters especially the women voters were reminiscent of faith in the mainstream and democratic process. Although timings of polling were from 7 am to 2 pm, yet those who had entered the polling booths by 2 pm had to wait beyond 3 pm to cast their vote on reaching the turn in the queue and did not choose the alternative of leaving without exercising their right. Such a response and fervour and warmth is all the more appreciative and indicative of the direction of the winds blowing to herald a new change and the zest and piquancy for peace and development. It is to be seen to be believed that the militancy infested districts of Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam witnessed on an average, more than 40 percent voting thus negating the writ of militants and their diktats.
The fact that the security forces across the Union Territory did an exemplary job in ensuring that no untoward incident inside or outside polling booths or for that matter, anywhere across the Union Territory, during the first phase of polling took place. Though there was tight security, yet the day passed off peacefully. People, by and large, want to have their areas around developed for which their elected representatives would not only be instrumental in bringing about such development but shall be directly answerable to the people as such. Such a grass root level democratic empowerment was going to open new vistas of opportunities for positive and constructive roles played by the people in moulding and shaping their areas into their liking and basic amenities would get a revamp and a virtual overhaul where transparency and accountability would get deeply strengthened.
Who wins and who loses is not that important in as much the strengthening the process for such an exercise is. Changes in the Governments and the administrative system do take place through the ways and provisions as enshrined in the constitution and it is not, therefore, important who wins but how the process is strengthened to have still more better results. Second phase of polling is scheduled on December 1, and the cue or the trend set in as witnessed in the first phase was going to be repeated with still better percentages to crown the democratic system and to pooh – pooh the undemocratic and rather violent methods.