Jammu Tawi, April 16
Expressing concern over scarcity of essential commodities, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) senior vice-president and former minister Raman Bhalla today said the administration must come out of deep slumber and infuse responsiveness and an element of accountability in its machinery in order to mitigate the sufferings of people. Addressing a public gathering at Qasim Nagar as a part of his mass contact programme by visiting door to door to listen to the grievances of people of Gandhi Nagar constituency, Bhalla alleged that the incumbent PDP-BJP coalition government had failed on all fronts. People of Jammu were experiencing difficulties due to shortage of electricity, erratic water supply and scarcity of ration but the authorities were not paying any attention to these burning problems of the common man, he said.
Bhalla attributed the low turnout to disappointment with local government’s ability to provide jobs and services, the lack of any progress in the peace process. Most voters in and around Srinagar were more concerned with local issues such as roads, clinics, schools and jobs than broader principles. People’s participation is very important for making good democracy not only at state or union level but also at grass-root level. Participation of all is necessary, whether directly or indirectly, to make the system more accountable and transparent. Participation helps to promote and enhance their leadership qualities and self-confidence. The Panchayat election 2011 in J&K was the overall enthusiasm of the people, where around 80% voter turnouts were recorded. The turnout in the Kashmir valley was over 77.71%. The young people especially were quite participated in the electoral process with many of them joining the election trying their luck as the candidates for Panch and Sarpanch constituencies. Low voter turnout is clearly a problem, but arguably a much greater worry is the growing inequality of that turnout. In the 2014 assembly election, people came out in large numbers to vote. At 66%, the state recorded the highest turnout in 25 years. Sunday’s 7.14% (revised from 6.5%) was the lowest in 30 years. The level of violence in 2014 too stayed low and people – especially in the Valley – came out in larger numbers in response to Mehbooba’s call to keep the BJP from crossing Banihal, the tunnel that connects Jammu with Kashmir. Whatever their final analysis, Mehbooba by asking for a postponement to the Anantnag election has only admitted that the ground situation is beyond the control of her government. This is precisely the time for a serious rethink on Kashmir. It is the clearest wake-up call for the Narendra Modi-led government, Bhalla added.
Others who were present on the occasion included Diwan Chand, Gopal Sharma, Panna Lal, Paras Ram, Kirna, Bittu, Vishal, Sumitra, Ashoka, Karuna Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Avtar, Jai Dev and others.