Srinagar: Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, on Monday said that the promulgation of Panchayati Raj system had given to the people the real taste of autonomy and self-rule in Jammu and Kashmir, as against the false idea of it propagated by regional parties.
“For the first time, grassroots democracy has been visible in J&K, and that has eroded the regional parties’ idea of autonomy and self-rule,” Singh told reporters at a press conference here. He did not mention the name of the National Conference or the Peoples Democratic Party, both of whom have been revolving their politics around autonomy and self-rule for J&K.
“Self-rule should emerge from the grassroots… It should not mean the same family ruling for three generations. For the first time in Kashmir valley, history has been made. Self-rule and autonomy have come. The parties that promised us self-rule and autonomy for 40 years have failed. The party that they had been questioning (the BJP) fulfilled their agenda. They should be thankful to us,” he said.
Elections for vacant panchayat seats are underway in Jammu and Kashmir, with the first phase of polling over and the second phase scheduled to take place on Tuesday. Regional parties are fighting the elections together on the platform of Public Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), against the BJP, Congress and Apni Party.
“They used autonomy, self-rule to win elections but actually cheated the common people,” Singh said. “When panchayat elections happened, they boycotted. But they jumped like a monkey into the poll process when parliamentary elections were held…. It means, do not select me as a sarpanch but I should be elected Member of Parliament. If you have stated that you won’t fight elections till the decision of August 5, 2019, is reversed, then why fight elections? Shouldn’t you resign now?”
On allegations levelled by the PAGD they have not been allowed to campaign freely like the BJP has, Singh said that they should come up with concrete evidence and present the same before the election commission for action.
Referring to the above 50 percent voter turnout during the first phase of DDC polls, Singh said that it was much more than the turnout for the Lok Sabha polls, which he called as a “positive sign”.