Eventually the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to conduct the Panchayat elections in state from February 15 2018. The decision of government has come to fore in an official handout after state’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met the Governor NN Vohra and apprised him about the certain initiatives of her coalition government is taking in coming times.
The Chief Minister’s decision of conducting the polls for Panchayat Raj system in state is certainly a significant step and can help her government to ensure the efficiency and more transparency in developmental works. The elections in the state for local bodies were due in July 2016 after the tenure of previous Panchayat Raj was over after successfully completing its six years.
The elections were delayed due to various issues especially after the political uncertainty in valley. The official spokesman of the Raj Bhawan said that the governor reiterated his concern about the vital importance of ensuring prompt redressal of public grievances and for the entire administrative system to function in a truly transparent and accountable manner, to promote public welfare.
After Panchayat elections were held in 2011 after a gap of nearly 37 years, there were 4098 Sarpanch and 29,402 Panch constituencies. The division-wise constituencies included 2145 (Sarpanch) in Kashmir (including Ladakh) and 1953 in Jammu while there were 15767 Panch segments in Kashmir (including Ladakh) and 13,635 in Jammu.
The chief minister had also personally announced on her micro blogging website Twitter about the decision. “I’m very pleased to announce that the long overdue Panchayat elections in J&K will be held from 15th February 2018. People in the state have always chosen ballots over bullets & will continue to do so”.
After 37 years in 2011, the Kashmir had first time free and fair Panchayat elections in which maximum number of people participated and strengthened the grass root level democracy. The watershed movement in the history of state had set the dawn for new era of prosperity and development though after the elections the developmental initiatives were not taken substantially.
Dozens of Panchs and Sarpanchs were killed by unknown gunmen to demoralize the people who were participating to strengthen the grass root level institutions. However, people didn’t budge and participated whole heartedly. The state is facing multiple challenges politically an d socially and among which the corruption and poor development are prevalent.
People in every part of the state are upset with the prevailing regimes owing to poor functioning of governments. Most of the times for their simple works they are forced to round the top offices in government including civil secretariat when the truth is that this highest seat of governance has nothing to do with the common man’s day to day problem and is set to envision and execute the plans for the progress and prosperity of state.
The local democratic institutions have been mandated to get addressed all the local issues in a shortest possible time. In addition of that it has also the direct governing of the local populace who will ensure that the transparency and efficiency is exercised in the developmental works and can keep its monitoring as they are the direct beneficiaries.
Besides in absence of Panchayat Raj, the state government was also deprived of the major financial support from New Delhi. The huge funding which New Delhi is releasing to the Panchayat institutions across country, the state was deprived of that due to delay in elections. This funding is only released to the Panchayat bodies directly by central government and once released, it can enormously help for the developmental works in cash starving state like Jammu and Kashmir.