April 2004 News

Saboteurs At Work

28 April 2004
The Asian Age

New Delhi: There is a definite pattern behind the systematic attacks unleashed against prominent political personalities in Jammu and Kashmir. The militants want to send out two messages through the attacks. One, they do not want a free and fair poll - they had received a great setback when the majority of people defied their directives to fearlessly cast their votes in the Assembly elections two years ago. Two, some of the hardliners do not want the ongoing dialogue between the Hurriyat and the Centre to get anywhere. It is, therefore, in desperation that the militants have tried to attack the motorcade in which Ms Mehbooba Mufti was travelling the other day. The Abdullahs too have been targeted during the course of the election campaign. While the motive is to spread fear and thus sabotage the polls, it is equally true that after a promising beginning, the Mufti-led coalition has failed to maintain the momentum of the several pro- people initiatives it had envisioned. The insistence on pushing through retrograde policies and the failure to check the corruption that has seeped into the state administration and police have become increasingly irksome. There was hope two years ago that funds meant for developmental projects will reach the intended beneficiaries; but that is not happening. The Mufti government's failures have emboldened the separatists to repeatedly strike in the valley. It is not just the Election Commission's job to conduct free and fair polls; the state administration at various levels has to cooperate in any such exercise. The importance of having impartial and objective officials cannot be over-emphasised. Solid intelligence back-up is also of paramount importance. In the absence of such basic inputs, both political processes and personalities come under stress. While this is true of every state of the Union, in states like J&K and in the Northeast, special measures are needed given the long history of ultra-infiltration in these regions. State governments have a special responsibility here. Instead of forever blaming the Centre for turning a deaf ear to their demands, state governments need to be more conscious of their role. Key people like Ms Mehbooba Mufti should be particularly aware of what is expected of them. In a democratic system, holding polls needs to be a transparent exercise; often, the need to be transparent leads to an opportunity for enemies of the democratic order to assert themselves. However, since it is the very rule of law that is at stake here, governments at all levels need to coordinate as far as possible. Holding general elections is a gigantic exercise. Bodies like the EC are performing an often thankless job. They need to be helped and supported at every stage, and the common man, who considers adult franchise to be a precious instrument for change, needs to be more proactively involved in the democratic exercise. That is the surest way to isolate the enemies of the democratic order.


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