On Tuesday when the police was arresting separatist leader Yasin Malik so as to prevent him from starting a poll boycott campaign, he while talking to reporters said that New Delhi is experimenting a different kind of democracy in Kashmir.
Malik’s statement was meant on taking a jibe on New Delhi on how it operates in Jammu and Kashmir, but the reality and the ground situation is proving his statement to be true and a glaring reflection of the fact that Delhi is experimenting with a unique type of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing local body polls which are meant to strengthen democracy and grass root democratic institutions here, but the elections are proving something else.
The elections are all set to begin from October 8, and for the first time in the history of democracy these elections have been restricted to faceless elections. Thereís no campaigning, no door-to-door canvassing, no poll rally in the Valley and even the names of candidates who have filed nomination papers or their political affiliations are not being disclosed.
A veil of secrecy is hanging over all such details as officials citing security reasons are not even providing the details, especially in the troubled south region of the Valley. They say disclosure of candidate details will make them vulnerable to threats, even endanger lives.
So far, 851 candidates have filed nomination papers for seats in 598 wards and 40 municipal bodies in the Valley. Across J&K, 1145 seats are up for grabs in 79 municipal bodies and a total of 3005 candidates are in the fray.
Ironically, the two major political parties PDP and National Conference have announced a boycott of these elections’ while the BJP, Congress and Sajad Loneís Peoples Conference are in the fray. Given this scenario there will probably be no contest for 60 per cent of the seats in Kashmir region.
Of the 598 wards in the Valley, not a single nomination paper has been filed in 172 wards and there is only one candidate in 190 wards, ensuring there is no voting. Of the 40 municipal bodies in the Valley, there will be no voting in at least 21 municipal bodies. There will, however, be a tight contest for 74 wards of the Srinagar municipal corporation. Officials said 310 candidates have filed nomination papers for the Srinagar wards.
As the nominations for all four phases of Municipal elections have ended startling figures have come to the fore from Kashmir Valley, where 215 Wards out of a total of 624 have gone uncontested while 177 Wards failed to attract even a single candidate.
The scenario is too troubling for those who are at the helm of detailing a policy that is governing Jammu and Kashmir. The state of affairs in the state will see no betterment if ground level institutions will be framed by resorting to such practices. The way local body polls are being held-it spells disaster for democracy and the only outcome is that the institution of democracy will be discredited to the hilt.