The historic decision to scrap Article 370 was a gargantuan move by the Modi government and while the likes of Congress, National Conference and People’s Democratic Party continue to cry foul, the benefits of revoking such an archaic law have already started showing as the Block Development Council elections which were recently held in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir along with Leh and Ladakh recorded a98% voter turnout.
The Block Development Council (BDC) elections were held on October 24 in J&K, Leh and Ladakh and were being held for the first time since 1947. There were over 1080 candidates in the fray in 310 blocks. Out of all the candidates, 27 were elected unopposed, while independents swept the fray with 217 blocks while the BJP bagged 81 blocks.
There were 26,629 electors, including 8,313 women and 18,316 men, for the polls to choose chairpersons of BDCs, which are organisations in the second tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), according to PTI. PRIs have three levels — village, block and district — and election for the first tier were held last year, which was also boycotted by the NC and the PDP.
In a welcome development, the polling percentage for the 10 districts in the Kashmir region was 93.65 per cent while it was 99.4 per cent for the 10 districts in the Jammu region while Ladakh recorded a turnout of 97.8 per cent. Shopian and Pulwama which were recently in the news due to the dastardly terrorist attacks by Pakistan-backed terrorists recorded 85.3 per cent and 86.2 per cent respectively, coming as a relief for New Delhi.
The unprecedented voter turnout is a tight slap to the politics of the Muftis and the Abdullahs who have long considered Kashmir as their birthright and have left no stone unturned to plunder its wealth and shove it into the abyss of terrorism.
It is important to note that Congress, NC and the PDP boycotted the elections as a sign of ‘protest’ against the Indian government’s move to abrogate Article 370. Shehla Rashid terminated her political career even before starting it as she ‘quit’ politics citing the her lack of faith in Indian democracy. It was highly anticipated by these politicians that the elections would be boycotted by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but to their consternation, the high voter turnout has laid the groundwork for their eternal rout in the state.
While the likes of Shah Faesal and Shehla Rashid try to paint a grim picture of Kashmir and how its citizens have lost faith in the Indian democracy, the high voter turnout contradicts their political agenda. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have yet again reposed their faith in India’s democratic fabric. They have paid no heed to the blatant anti-India politics played by the like of Congress, NC and PDP and have instead turned out in high numbers to elect leaders which will work for them at the grassroots level instead of indulging in pro-militant rhetoric.
These are extremely encouraging signs that are coming out of Jammu and Kashmir as the politics played by the Muftis and the Abdullahs stand rejected. The Union Territory has never recorded such high numbers in polling during the imposition of Article 370 as back then, the militants continued to rule the roost as many politicians virtually covered for them. Despite the threat of terrorists lurking in the shadows to stop people from voting, the elections were held with high voter turnout and without any incident of violence. It is no coincidence that such a high voter turnout was recorded immediately after the scrapping of Article 370.