Modi’s J&K visit on National Panchayat Raj Day fails to evoke any enthusiasm in region’s political parties

“It’s a matter of great pride that democracy reached grassroots level in J&K,” Modi said in a public rally. However, reality is that since 2018, the region continues to reel under bureaucratic rule

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File photo)

Gulzar Bhat

On Sunday, the front page of newspapers in both Srinagar and Jammu were plastered with full page advertisements announcing the itinerary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

PM Modi began his tour by addressing a gathering in Palli village of Jammu's Samba district to commemorate the National Panchayat Raj Day.

This is the first visit of the Prime Minister to the region since his government read down the special constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and broke it into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Earlier, the Prime Minister had visited Jammu and Kashmir on February 3, 2019.

Modi laid the foundation of different projects worth Rs 20000 crore, which includes Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway and the Ratle and Kwar hydroelectric plants.

According to the BJP government, the special constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir had stymied the development of the region and it was impressed on the people that the removal of these provisions would usher a new dawn of development in the region. However, such statements turned out to be in deep contrast to the ground reality.

The Prime Minister in his address said that it was a matter of great pride that the democracy reached the grass roots level in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, since the BJP ended its alliance with PDP in June 2018, there has hardly been any political activity in Jammu and Kashmir. The region continues to reel under bureaucratic rule.

Last year on June 24, Modi held an all-party meeting with the political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and it was perceived that it would mark the beginning of the political process. The agenda-less meeting, however, ended without any announcement or assurance on the political counts by the Prime Minister.

The draft proposal of Delimitation Commission that was tasked to remap the territorial constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir has ignored the cardinal parameter of population while redrawing the boundaries.

There is a general feeling among the political parties in the Valley that the poll constituencies were being overhauled to give electoral benefit to the BJP.

The Commission was formed despite the fact that J& K Assembly had placed a moratorium on the delimitation process until 2026. Even the Supreme Court had upheld the freeze.

Although the Prime Minister's visit is seen by many as a formal launch of election campaign for overdue assembly elections, both the political parties and common masses are clueless about the next elections.

On January 22, the Home Minister again invoked the 'normalcy' narrative in Jammu and Kashmir during the inauguration of the much-hyped District Good Governance Index (DGGI), but in the same breath he said that statehood would only be restored when ‘normalcy’ returned to the region.

The Prime Minister's visit did not evoke any enthusiasm in the opposition political parties of the region.

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