Srinagar: The scenes witnessed today in the state assembly as the budget session began and Governor N N Vohra was about to begin his joint address to both the houses of the legislature do not augur well for the democratic setup in the state.
The protests by the opposition on this vital day when the Governor spells out the policies and programmes of the government have clearly spelt out that there is a serious disconnect between the opposition and the ruling parties. The way opposition members came out openly defying even the Governors pleas to listen to him display that the opposition is feeling choked and neglected.
The anger was obvious as the opposition left no chance to contest the government both within and outside the assembly. If we analyze the state governments performance vis-a-vis roping in the opposition on key and vital issues during the past two years then it clearly seems that the ruling party has failed to nurture individual and collective capabilities. There has been far too little effort in public policy to create spaces where citizens interact freely and peacefully.
The case in point is the governments tough posture when it comes to display of anger and even at times displeasure by the opposition. The government has over the past few years mastered the art of curbing voices-be it emerging from the mainstream or the separatist groups. The governments best response has been to restrain their outbursts.
The ruling parties in the state have forgotten that for a democracy to be complete, it is necessary that members of a democracy must engage with one another lest we remain equal.
Public policy should engineer spaces where the citizens meet on the basis of a participatory parity. Repeated interaction in public spaces would make us realise our common humanity and enable us to see any residual identity for what it really is.
As of now we can easily claim that democracy has not lived up to the expectations of the people of the state, the opposition is no exception to this. Not only does today’s incident reflect the clamor against the choking of voices but it also should alarm the ruling class that the way they have been handling the situations needs a rethink.
Democracy should not mean that the government should have it way always, it should mean a participatory approach where reconciliation and intermixing of ideas should be the key. No matter how unpalatable it is for the government at times.