Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Politicians haven’t stopped catering to vote bank politics

The political season which usually surfaces after every six years in every Assembly segment of the country is at its full boom in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. All the political parties are shouting with high pitch in-front of the common man, making tall promises with an assurance to end their miseries to influence and attract them in their favour so they could get votes. But soon after these political leaders are voted to power they forget everything. Even it becomes hard for the general public to meet these leaders once they are voted to power. People having high hopes to get their problems solved are even deprived of to meet these leaders by the security personnel at the gates of political leaders’ residences by telling them that these leaders are either out of station or sleeping or busy in meetings or in the ‘bathroom’. Yet people are befooled and their eternal in compelled to caste votes as they are easily targeted by the politicians catering vote bank politics. Despites knowing that these leaders will not solve their problems, people trust on them and cast their votes with renewed hopes that this time their problems will be solved but their hopes are shattered by all the politicians (parities have no relevance as a politician after all is a politician), as being done for past several years. Why these leaders keep on betraying the voters’ despites knowing that they have to face the same public after six years and did not pay any attention towards the solution of peoples’ problems? Why the same promises are repeated after every six years? Should not these leaders take the problems of people seriously? So the trust on politicians could be strengthened. Infect the trust of voters on politicians is weakening day after day which is resulting in formation of coalition governments. As every individual electorate hopes that the new party or the new leader will his problem seriously but it seems a never ending practice. Politicians will continue their way and people will suffer.

The coalition patched up between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress (I) in J&K following the 2002 elections, collapsed following protests over the Amarnath land transfer. Apart from the communal polarization and wave of anti-India protests that have preceded it, a repeated failure of governance in the past decade also make the 2008 elections crucial. The first elections in Kashmir held in 1951 catapulted the National Conference (NC) under tutelage of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to power. However the subsequent elections that followed were mired in charges of blatant rigging by New Delhi. One exception to this were the 1977 Assembly elections, held after the lifting of the Emergency imposed by the former Prime Minister (PM), Indira Gandhi, whose party was routed allowing the NC to emerge victorious. However the electoral process lay suspended from 1990 as insurgency gripped the state, only to be rekindled in late 1996. The 1996 elections, regarded as fair, once again catapulted the NC to power. The 2002 elections built upon this process were acknowledged as being 'free and fair' by the international community. Disillusionment with what was popularly perceived to be a corrupt and insensitive government led people to vote for the opposition PDP, which too soon failed on the governance front. Instead corruption and narrow politics, as revealed by the political opportunism of the PDP in the Valley and the BJP in Jammu, over the Amarnath land row, ruled roost. Unfortunately, it is shocking that our governments fail time after time and that even their so called corrective measures are deeply flawed. There is no competent minister to ensure good governance. It is even more shocking that politicians have not stopped catering to vote bank politics and are themselves orchestrating divisive politics.

What happened to the concept of the right person for the job irrespective of caste, religion or gender? Has the Congress forgotten, or maybe not even realized, that the Indian population does not care for divisiveness or our gender/caste/religious differences? And the greatest proof of that is that they voted a party to power that had a foreigner at the helm.
It is shocking that the ruling government will not only keep dabbling in divisive politics but will not even save us from the horrific fall out of it. The Shiv Sena and MNS claimed that north Indians are a menace to Mumbai but it is only them that have held the city to ransom.

It is only their political groups that have repeatedly over months and years vandalized the city, thrashed cab drivers, burnt hundreds of buses, hit and beat innocents on the street, brought the economic hub of India continually to a stand still with forced Bandhs and cost the tax payers thousands of crores in damages and loss of revenue. For years despite our cries for help, politicians did nothing about it and pretty much looked the other way.
It is shocking that despite Mumbai being the economic hub of the country and putting out over 40 percent of the country’s taxes that the city still lacks security and infrastructure.

It is shocking that 50 odd years post independence that as a nation we still lack infrastructure, accountability, transparency and a solid game plan to rid corruption, poverty and terror on our streets.

Our politicians take so much care about their personal security (paid for by our tax money) and care so little about the citizens of the country that elected them.
Despite mammoth budgets for our Defence fund we have ineffective metal detectors to protect the common man, ineffective bullet proof vests to protect our brave forces, and the use of NSG Commandos only for politicians.

It is taken so long for national outrage. However, better late than never and it is time to demand action.

It is time to listen to the people and care for them, because a democracy is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.

As observed the 2008 Assembly elections seems historic one because of the unexpected large turnout of voters but the terror attacks in Mumbai have overshadowed them. The Mumbai terror attacks have clouded the 2008 polls in Jammu and Kashmir. Surprising many, more than 60 percent voter turnout has been recorded in the first three of the seven phases of the election despite Muslim separatists' boycott call. The global attention turned toward the terror attacks. The elections, which attracted long queues at the places considered out of reach of the voters or where the electorates were seen as hostages to the will of the separatists and militants, were relegated to obscurity. Though there seems is a sea change in the attitude and approach of the people during the ongoing elections and this election could have made its mark in the world newspapers and media, the way people turned out to vote, voice their aspirations for development, road connectivity, bridges, water and electricity. Now it would be the responsibility of politicians to respect the sentiments and aspirations of people and they should focus on development, upliftment of the society and at the most ensure security of the citizens.

See the symbol of the Congress is the hand. The same hand can either caress and comfort the population or slap them repeatedly. The choice is theirs.

Politicians are accountable for what they do and also what they don’t do. Inaction is also action. If politicians don’t stop catering to vote bank politics and show the public visible change in their decades old strategies very soon, I am sure the public will make sure they change these leaders…. Their time to effect change starts…. now!

Basic problem; type of Govt. or the way it functions?

The basic problems like unemployment, lack of development, education, healthcare facilities and absence of representatives to hear the voice of those who are hoodwinked by a small section of opportunist people has not only affected badly the political system of Jammu and Kashmir but also of the entire country. These problems arise not because of the type of government, but because of the way it functions, the leaders we chooses and the lack of political awareness among the masses. Often, questions of ethics, morals, right or wrong, honest or favored, unlawfulness, crime, punishment and acquittal are highlighted, and automatically subdued under political pressure. Once elected to the Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly, the minister forgets his responsibilities and duties as a servant of the state; instead, his thirst for money and greed of power never quench. In this whole process, the tax-payer suffers. He neither gets justice, nor an honest account of the hard-earned money paid as tax. Another source of problem in the Indian democracy arises due to interference and interruption of different departments-the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. These political pressures and favors lead to lawlessness and injustice, only. Another issue is the inability of meritorious candidates to contest for elections. Parties find a huge source of income in selling their tickets at high prices to undeserving people who can afford them. Therefore, those with long records of crimes and offenses find their place in the political system. So, on a realistic note, most of the Lok Sabha represents criminals and goons are elected to power by unconstitutional methods of forced voting, illegitimate casting of votes by their own supporters, and voters who have no/little knowledge of the whole system, but vote in accordance to religion or religion or community. Thus, an analysis of the Indian politics leaves you surprised and shocked: “How is this system working? It should have collapsed way back!” It is indeed a wonder how things fall apart in our country, yet the system keeps on working. The general attitude of ‘Chal Jayega’ is very chronic, yet ironic, for India. For the vision, Vision India-2020, to become reality, the whole system will have to be revised and re-structured. We need to have new leaders. People who have the courage to stand, speak up and pin-point the wrong. We’ll need youth who have the courage to overcome all odds and emerge victor. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam rightly identifies today’s youth with tomorrow’s future. His book ‘Vision 2020’ is testimony to the power and capability of today’s youngsters. Let us not undermine our own potential and act audience. Let us take the stage and speak our minds out. For, leaders are not made, they are born. And, I believe that a leader is born inside you the moment you choose the path of right, honesty and welfare. As we all know, India is the world’s largest democracy. But do we live up to this high title? Are we honest enough to be called a democracy? Is it democracy or a dictatorship we are living in? Let us review our political structure first, and then find out where the problem lies, which prevents us from being proud when it comes to discussing our politics- the ‘Indian’ politics. India adopted the Federal system in 1947, and is therefore a union of 26 states and 6 Union Territories (UT), which together form the Parliamentary system of Government, governed by the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution on 26 November, 1949 and it came into force on 26 November, 1950. The Parliament consists of the President and two Houses- Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People). Members to the Rajya Sabha are elected indirectly. Out of its total population of 245 members, 233 represent states and UTs and other 12 are nominated by the President. The Lok Sabha has a total of 545 members who are elected directly by the people of India and it represents the citizen population. The President is the Constitutional Head of the State. However, Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Members headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advice the President, who shall act in accordance with such advice. This Article makes the powers vested in the President of India insignificant and makes him a ‘rubber stamp’, while gives all powers to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet of Ministers. This Parliamentary form of government in India is different from that in America and England. These countries follow the federal system, where the President, who is the Head of the State, enjoys real powers. In such a system, the scope of conflict or pooling is much lesser than in Parliamentary form, although the Senate, as the Parliament in USA is called, is approached for final decision on both internal and external policies.

Changing paradigm of politics in J&K

Whatever will be the outcome of the 2008 Assembly elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it is clearly emerging that contours of politics in Jammu and Kashmir are changing.

Though, this time it seems more dominated by the national party like Congress but as far as the leaders like Mufti Mohammed Sayed, Mehbooba Mufti, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are concerned, they are more important as they have numbers on their side.

Congress party’s compulsion would be to go out of the way to woo regional parties like NC, JKNPP, PDF & independents and the last option would be PDP to form the government in the state. Even these regional parties which are on the back burner at present having lost public faith are flexing their muscles and are trying to re-construct damages will certainly maintain a distance from Congress.

These developments clearly indicate that even if Congress gets more seats this time on the basis of developmental activity in the state yet the future of Jammu and Kashmir state politics will be decided by regional players.

Such a situation may not be bad for the state as after the last elections state has been ruled by a coalition instead of a single party and a lot of development was witnessed but that ended with a bad name (which seems will not put much effect on the electorate who are politically aware enough). The implications of new trends will be that regional players will have more influence and this will check authoritarian trends, but will also make it more difficult to resolve disputes or issues.

The progress under coalition governments has been positive but at the same time the gap between poor and rich, urban and rural has widened. The combination of parties which will form the Government will find it very difficult to take any firm action to reduce this gap.

There is however, a negative side to it as coalition rule means larger and larger ministries with comparatively lesser responsibilities. With every regional player seeking a place under the sun, any combination will survive only if representation is given to all.

Moreover, regional parties are vehicle for any national party to reach out to every nook and corner of the state. Regional political parties represent the aspirations of the regions, grow on regional issues and are vehicles for national parties to reach out to the people. When national interests are involved, these parties forget their political differences and work in tandem but it was unfortunate that in the recent past two of our mainstream regional political parties forgot national interests and came out with such a statements at different places, which resulted in worsening the law and order situation not only in the state but across the nation, causing huge losses to both live and property.

As a state having three different regions with distinguished cultures Jammu and Kashmir cannot be governed without existence of regional parties that act as safety valves. However, the coalition must confine itself to a limited mandate and not go beyond as such a venture can have serious eventualities.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Poor villagers of Bhaderwah rub feet to reach homes; their ex-MLA still rides 26 Govt. vehicles ?

The state of Jammu and Kashmir for the last 18 years remained in international focus due to active militancy, deaths and destructions and now a-days election process and boycott call by separatists have once again invited the attention of international as well as national media. As seen in the past, during the election process, the misdeeds of politicians are brought before the people by the opposition to defame one and the other and gain the sympathies of voters by provoking them against other but some active social workers who have poor background and feel by heart the pain of poor public which has remained a neglected slot during the past 60 years have started attacking directly of these leaders of the past by disclosing their luxurious life style which they have been enjoying at the cost of Govt money, which in-fact is the hard earned money of public which they pay through taxes etc. Hailing from Chiralla belt of villages, a prominent social worker, ex-serviceman and retired educationist, Master (Retd.), Fazal Alam Wani, who has been convinced by the villages people of the constituency (about 70 %), to contest as independent candidate from Bhaderwah , which was earlier represented by the former Chief Minister (CM) Ghulam Nabi Azad, has expressed deep sorrow over the plight of villagers in the Bhaderwah constituency, after an extensive tour of several villages which remained unconnected even after repeated assurances by the political leaders, (The leaders who are expert in fiddling with the sentiments of highly emotional and simple villagers). Giving reference of Rising Kashmir, an English Daily published form Kashmir, Master Fazal lamented that how a leader (also happens to be the CM) representing a constituency, people of which have to walk for days to reach their homes from road side, can continue to have 26 vehicles when he is not CM. “I read in the paper that former CM has 28 vehicles, if it is so, is gross violation of not only Modal Code of Conduct (MCC) but also belies his own claims of corruption free, transparent and clean administration”. “The people of Bhaderwah, particularly villagers are suffering badly in the absence of all basic amenities and many have to live in temporary houses which soak during rains and snowfall but how he (Azad) can continue to occupy 4 government accommodations, as reported by Risking Kashmir, he added. Relevant to mention have that, Election Commission of India has reportedly taken note of a complaint about Ghulam Nabi Azad being still accorded the ‘Chief Minister’ status in terms of security and VIP hospitality.
Master Fazal added that as reported by Rising Kashmir, Chief Election Commissioner, N Gopalaswamy has told reporters in Jammu that the Commission was ceased of the matter and it will be looked into. ECI had received a complaint from some political party stating gross violation of MCC in respect of not downsizing the security and other facilities being enjoyed by Azad. Sources said that it has been pointed out that he continued to have a fleet of 26 vehicles allotted to him at the time of being Chief Minister. This includes several bullet-proof cars and other luxury and high-end vehicles. This security paraphernalia also requires a battery of security personnel drawn from Special Security Group (SSG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police, which is responsible for the security of Chief Ministers and former Chief Ministers. "This is the highest ever number of vehicles any Chief Minister has been using in Jammu and Kashmir in past 60 years" a top security official said (Rising Kashmir).
According to further story of the Rising Kashmir, it is not only the security. Azad has not even vacated any of the four houses under his occupation since the days of Chief Minister ship. He continues to hold the possession of Hari Niwas Palace which was renovated as Chief Minister's official residence at a whopping cost of around Rs 11 crores. He has also not vacated the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Guest House near Zeethyar Temple which he used as transit residence till Hari Niwas was completed. Sources revealed that the official residence of Chief Minister at Wazarat Road in Jammu has also not been vacated so far. Azad also continues to hold the possession of a palatial house in South Avenue in Delhi, which is the property of Jammu and Kashmir government. It was purchased in lieu of state owned property in Delhi. Azad insisted not to leave it after he took over as Chief Minister in 2005.
Though the former Chief Minister is entitled to have a house in Jammu and Srinagar in accordance with the law passed by NC government in 2000 but Azad is yet to shift to M A Road bungalow which was also renovated as Chief Minister's residence by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2003. It is under occupation of former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig but allotted to Azad. He has also been allotted a house in Jammu, official sources said.
In contrast, two former Chief Ministers, Farooq Abdullah and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have been allotted only six vehicles each, including those used by their security guards. Their predecessor Ghulam Mohammad Shah is poor enough with one car and two escort vehicles. While Farooq lives in his own houses in Jammu and Srinagar, Mufti is allotted official residences in both the capitals. Shah also has two official residences in Jammu and Srinagar but he has converted the latter into the headquarters of Awami National Conference, reports Rising Kashmir.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Anti Congress slogans rock villages of Bhaderwah

BHADERWAH, NOV 9: For the first time in the political history of Bhaderwah constituency, villagers in Chiralla belt of villages today rose anti Congress slogans and demanded white paper from the Congress leaders on the works done and money extracted from the state exchequer on the name of so called developmental works in villages of the constituency.
Relevant to mention here that the 'Villagers Force' which constitutes about 70 to 75 percent electorates of entire Bhaderwah constituency have already decided to vote for independent candidate Master (Retd.), Fazal Alam Wani, who is also an ex-serviceman.
Though, three main big political guns are in fray including Mohammed Aslam Goni of NC, Diya Krishan Kotwal of BJP and former Chief Minister (CM) Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress besides other of PDP, JKNPP, SP, BSP etc but as the wave is going on there looks a straight contest between Ghulam Nabi Azad and Master Fazal Alam which could tilt either side.
Reports said that in Loharthawa and Sunarthawa villages of Chiralla, hundreds of people gathered and rocked the area raising slogans like…..'Jin Lutraoon Nay Hum Ko Loota Hai, Un Lutaroon Ko Hatana Hai'.
The people were agitated over the arrival of Congress President Distt Doda, Naresh Gupta in the area to organize an election rally.
However, Mohd. Iqbal Teli, Tehsil Thathri President Congress, admitted before the public that some local Congress leaders have done injustice with the villagers and assured that an inquiry will be initiated and if found wrongs done by the Congress leaders/workers he will quit the
However, Master Fazal intervened and appealed to the agitated mob not to discourage the visiting election campaign party of Congress and mentioned that every contesting party as well as individual has fundamental right to put his policies and ideas before the public on which people cool down and maintain the hospitality served food to the visiting Congress campaign party and soon dispersed off.
Meanwhile, Master Fazal Alam organized election rallies at Joura, Halaran, Sunarthawa, Binola, and Ghori. He said that the people living in villages have waked up and are now asking these parties what they have done for the villagers during last 60 years.
Master Fazal alleged that some mainstream political parties are unsung official machinery during the election campaign including some SPOs who have been allotted to some contesting candidates for security purpose. He further alleged that some employees of PDD are actively
involved in the election campaign and appealed to Election Commission (EC) to initiate and action and conduct an inquiry into the use of official machinery for election campaign.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

2008 elections likely to shake political history of Bhaderwah

As the majority of villagers in 54-Bhaderwah Assembly constituency have reportedly turned hostile against the mainstream political parties NC, BJP & Congress and the remaining are on the track, the 2008 elections in Jammu and Kashmir State are going to witness an unexpected political change from Bhaderwah constituency which is likely to shaking the political history of this constituency.
Till date constituency was represented by Chuni Lal of NC in 1957 and 1962 while as Jagat Ram and Bodh Raj of the Congress party won the 1967 and 1972 elections. Narayan Dass of JP won from here in 1977 while as H.L Hiteshi of NC wrested the seat in 1983. Hari Lal of Congress represented the constituency in 1987 while as Sheikh Abdul Rehman of BSP won from Bhaderwah in 1996, Mohammed Sharief Niaz in 2002 and due to the resignation of Niaz, by-election was held on 24th April, 2006 and Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress was elected.
This time though all the three mainstream political parties BJP, NC and Congress have intensified their ground level campaign in the constituency to get best, yet people are not happy from BJP’s D.K Kotwal and NC’s Mohammed Aslam Goni, SP, JKNPP, and BSP.
According to electorates these two leaders of two mainstream political parties have not done anything for the people, particularly villagers. Though, the Congress candidate from Bhaderwah constituency and former Chief Minister (CM) Ghulam Nabi Azad had initiated some development works but were limited to either Bhaderwah city or his native village in Bhalessa, while the rest of constituency remained neglected.
Still there are many villages in the constituency which lack electricity, water, healthcare and road connectivity is the main problems of villagers which have forced them to revolt against these mainstream political parties this time and opt for a candidate amongst them.
This time villagers have decided to favour a local candidate whom they can approach any time at home. As per a survey conducted by Villagers Development Front, the people of villages which constitutes about 60-70 percent of the electorates have turned hostile towards these mainstream political parties and their favorite this time is an Ex-serviceman and retired educationist, Master Fazal Alam who hails from Chiralla belt of villages which have 14,099 eligible voters.
Relevant to mention here that the entire Bhaderwah constituency has 112 Polling Station out of which 97 are in and of villages while just 15 are in cities. According to survey conducted by the Forum, besides 14, 099 voters of Chiralla belt of villages, 11, 055 voters from Bhaderwah belt out of 44000 total and 8977 in Bhalessa belt out of total 34, 000 voters are almost confirmed to vote for Master Fazal Alam. 
The votes in Bhaderwah belt which are about 44, 000 have to be divided among several parties including JKNPP, BSP, SP and PDP. It is being projected that maximum number of voters in Bhaderwah belt particularly the city area which has some influence of separatists may stay away from the poll process. And if they do so, it is clear that Azad, and Mohammed Aslam Goni both leaders of main political parties have to bear the loss of votes if not cast. Which will ultimately benefit Master Fazal Alam who has the support of neglected section of the society…….’The Villagers Force,’ who have pledged to cast their votes at any cast to end the ignorance and suppression of city leaders.
In Bhalessa belt, out of 34, 000, about 9,000 voters are in Master Fazal’s favour while and as the wave is going on more and more villagers are joining Master Fazal, which is indicating that people of villages have decided this time not to vote form those who live in cities. “We have been casting votes in the past but when we have a problem to tell, no body is there to listen to us, where have to search for these leaders who some time stay in Jammu, Srinagar and Delhi, we have decided to elect a person who himself is a villager and whom we can approach any time,” said Shamas Din, a man in his 60s resident of a village in Bhalessa.
Mohammed Iqbal of Bhaderwah said, “We had voted for Azad last time but when a deputation of our villagers visited Jammu to meet him we were told several times that Azad Sahib is not available, and after staying for three weeks in hotels at Jammu, one day we got a chance to meet but that time we were told to write a application and submit to his Secretary and also discuss with him, I want to ask a question here, had we voted for Azad or that bureaucrat (Secretary)”.
Ashok Manhas who was earlier associated with BJP as an active and dedicated worker said, “We are villagers and we have to and should vote for a villager, these city leaders have always befooled us on emotional grounds some time on religious lines for their petty political gains, but now every villager has realized that until and unless a representative from villages is chosen, development of villagers is not possible.”
The total electors eligible to exercise their franchise in the constituency in 2008 elections are 94,173. Of these, 47,970 are male and 46,203 female voters. The number of polling stations to be set up in the constituency is 112, as compared to 107 in 2002 elections.
Mohammad Sharief Niaz of Congress was elected from this constituency in 2002 elections. He polled 16,962 votes and defeated his nearest NC rival Mohammad Aslam by a margin of 6,827 votes. Aslam received 10,135 votes. A total of 49,628 voters voted out of 91,478 registered electorates and the poll percentage was recorded at 54.25.