Srinagar: Appealing to people to take part in Urban Local Body (ULB) and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik said these polls are not for New Delhi but to empower people at grass-root level to address local issues with the help of funds received from state and central governments.
“You are being mislead by all those parties who have given a boycott call on the pretext of Article 35 A issue which was there when they (parties) participated in Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil elections,” Malik said in an interview to local Doordarshan.
Malik said immediately after his appointment he was directed to take charge as the Governor of the state with immediate effect. “I rushed here and took oath and started assessing the situation and making efforts to address the issues,” he said.
When asked if holding election when two main political parties — National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — besides Communist Party of India (M) have stayed away from the election process will serve any purpose, the Governor said it was unfortunate. “I met the leaders of these parties and everyone was in favour of holding elections,” he said.
“In fact, I did not call NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah to Raj Bhavan but went to meet him,” Malik said, adding that Dr Abdullah was in favour of holding election on non party basis. But, he said, other parties had not agreed to this proposal.
Malik said the NC and PDP are claiming that they are boycotting the election on the issue of Article 35 A which is not a fact. “They (NC-PDP) are trying to clear the ground for Assembly election when they can claim that they have made sacrifice on the issue of Article 35 A by not contesting the UBL and Panchayat polls. The issue of Article 35 A was there when both the parties contested LAHDC Kargil election,” he said.
The Governor said the ULB and Panchayat polls are being held to empower the locals so that problems being faced by the people at grass-root level are addressed by their local elected representatives. “These elections have nothing to do with central government or BJP or me (Governor),” he said.
“Every panchayat or ULB will get at least Rs one crore finance from the centre and state government to address local drainage and other smaller problems,” he said, adding the state may lose Rs 4335 crore if election are not held.
“At present people have to meet officers to address their local problem,” he said adding when the elections are held people will have to approach their own local representative to get the work done.
When asked about the expected participation of voters in the ULB and Panchayat polls in the state in the backdrop of NC and PDP staying away from the process, the Governor said these parties are now realising that by deciding against their participation in the polls they have made a mistake. To another question, Mr Malik said he has done an analysis that only 17 per cent voters would not be exercising their democratic right because of the absence of candidates in some municipal wards.
Meanwhile, considering the pattern of attempts to disturb law and order in the past few days, Mr Malik stressed the need of a heightened vigil and ensuring the safety of protected persons and the security of all important establishments and installations.
An official said that Mr Malik undertook a detailed review of security management related issues in a meeting, involving senior Civil, Police, Central Armed Police, Army, and State and Central Intelligence Agencies, at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday.
The meeting holds significance as it was held a day after two NC workers were killed by unidentified gunmen in the Karfali Mohalla in the old city.
He said the meeting discussed security arrangements made for the smooth conduct of the forthcoming elections to the ULB and Panchayats and the need of a safe environment for the elections.
After obtaining sector-wise assessments of the prevailing security situation and arising challenges, the Governor emphasized the crucial importance of maintaining a sustained close watch on the ground situation, and appreciated the sustained real time coordination and synergy between the Security Forces and the Civil Administration.
Mr Malik discussed about the issues relating to the welfare of the police personnel and their families. Lauding the commitment of security forces towards their duty and bravery and sacrifices made by them during discharge of their duties, Governor stressed that it is our responsibility to take care of welfare of our police personnel and their families. He directed for every possible effort be made to assuage their grievances.