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Votes for development

The unexpected turnout in the first phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Kashmir indicates that people are ready to endorse the democratic process if they believe that the basic facilities will be met. With over 40 percent turnout in Kashmir alone, the numbers speak for the fact that howsoever volatile the political situation in Kashmir may be, the people are still looking forward to those who can resolve their basic issues of every day life. Roads, water, electricity, et al – issues like these always touch people and anyone promising to fulfil these basic requirements is able to bring people out to vote. Generally, those who voted in the first phase of the DDC polls said they came out only because they have a frail hope that the candidates who are contesting the polls may be able to fix their day to day issues. Fixing a potholed road, installing garbage bins, getting an old electricity pole replaced – many candidates are asking for votes promising they will fix issues like these. Several voters who came out said they wanted to elect people who can solve basic problems and bigger issues like restoration of special status should be left for assembly and parliamentary elections. The eight-phase DDC polls are the first elections in Jammu and Kashmir since it was reorganised as a union territory last year after the abrogation of its special status, and it is being held along with by-polls to panchayats. People says that the DDCs or for that matter panches and sarpanches have little role in framing laws and the only reason to vote for them is basic development at a micro level. People say that DDCs and Panchayats offer a small platform to address the developmental issues of the people at the local level. The relatively higher numbers were surprising to say the least. However, as the voting day closed, the pictures of long queues of voters went viral on social media. With the political hullabaloo that Kashmir has witnessed in Kashmir for the last one and a half year, no one had imagined that people will come out in such large numbers. However, they did setting the mood for any and all political activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The coming together of regional political parties and the increased political activity by BJP in the Union Territory has set the ball rolling for a heated political contest in the near future. However, people have once again showed that they will only endorse those who will work for the basic issues and make their day to day lives even a little better.