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Connecting with people

Long lines of people taking part in the election process during the ongoing DDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir is becoming a normal sign these days. On Wednesday, when the Union Territory went to polls in the penultimate phase of the District Development Council polls, one could again see people queuing up early morning to cast their votes hoping that the representatives they choose will redress their day-to-day problems. The only aspect one can infer from such huge participation is the poor state of public affairs and how desperate people are to find and elect someone who can resolve these issues for them. Kashmir has been long mired in political battles that have always focused on the larger issues at hand, however, amid this chaos and an array of incredulous promises, the basic necessities of people, be it those living in urban or rural areas, have been majorly if not completely ignored. For years, governments after governments run by the regional parties played with the emotions of the people and did little for them. It is not surprising that when a rookie of an independent candidate, who is not even able to express him or herself properly, promises the people of a distant village roads, jobs and barest of facilities, they pin hopes on him/her as it is not akin to building castles in the air. They see themselves in these candidates. They view themselves in their hesitating speeches and joked-about videos, and how they are made fun of, like the way a commoner is. This may look ridiculous to netizens who share these videos of these candidates making hilarious blunders in their speech but locally that is how they are able to get people out as they are able to find that connection that, probably, leaders of the past could never. We once saw former J&K Chief Ministers, when they were not in power, brush shoulders like commoners with the people. That was a time when they wielded some authority and whatever they said was taken on merit. But then as the times changed and as the power shuffled hands, these leaders took refuge in the high gardens of Gupkaar and were inaccessible as ever. They probably forgot that times change and the balance of power shifts, sometimes with a warning and sometimes without it. It is understandable that Kashmir is going through strange times but one can but pin blame on such leaders who let go the people’s connection and failed to listen to their genuine appeals and aspirations, all of which has led to the quandary the valley finds itself in. Even in these times, one hopes that 2021 will have better prospects for the people of Kashmir in terms of their overall health, happiness, and goals that a government in place genuinely wants to address.