IN the absence of an Assembly, District Development Councils (DDCs) have been conceived as the link between the people and the government in Jammu and Kashmir. The first-ever DDC polls across 20 districts of the new Union Territory mark the reopening of the political space and restoration of the link that was effectively snapped with the dissolution of the Assembly in November 2018 and then the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year. The decision of the mainstream J&K-based parties to first contest and then come together, setting aside differences, is a welcome move. The results, though, have been on expected lines. The Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a seven-party grouping that includes rivals NC and PDP, has won it big in Kashmir, and the BJP in Jammu. The BJP may have described the victory of three of its candidates in the Valley as a wave of change and an affirmation of the Centre’s vision, but for former CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, the results only confirm rejection of the decision to end the erstwhile state’s special status.
The perceived sense of injustice has deepened and the trust deficit has widened during the past 16 months. The largely peaceful electoral exercise is unlikely to bring about any immediate transformation. What it does offer is a positive turn towards samvad and vishvas — democratic concepts made dormant by those in charge. The reactivation of the constitutionally-mandated processes of governance may have come late in the day, but is still a constructive development. The test for the administrative and political leadership now is to stay committed to forging a working relationship that has public welfare as the overarching goal.
The disturbingly confrontational tone of the campaigning left a sour note, but elections of late have seen decibel levels go past all parameters of acceptability, unchecked. Neither does the model of detention and raids fit into the blueprint of a functional polity that allows opposing views and seeks accountability. A fresh start demands better.