By Muzamil Jaleel
AS the details of DDC polls emerge, there is one aspect that has gone completely unnoticed. The implications of these polls on India. It is clear that like many other new measures, Jammu and Kashmir is a laboratory to test a new project which will alter the very foundations of trio all politics across states. The concept to elect DDC through direct vote isn’t done anywhere else. It was tried in J&K first.
These DDC polls have actually turned Panchayats (which are elected through a direct vote) irrelevant and are going to be a replacement of the assemblies too. It is not being done anywhere else yet, all states have DDCs elected by Block committees and panchs and not through direct vote. Once the two layers above Panchayats are elected by panchs, it keeps them relevant to the whole process. In fact, that process had made Panchayat system three tier. Now an elected DDC is going to make Panchayat polls redundant and completely powerless. There are 14 elected members in a district who will choose a chairperson and there isn’t any clarity what role Panchayats are going to play. The Panchayat system is no longer connected. With DDC elected through a direct vote, the lower two layers are no longer important. DDC makes panchs irrelevant,so is it going to turn elected assemblies unnecessary.
It also is aimed to depoliticise state level politics. BJP is moving towards a presidential form of government which will not be a federal structure / every state sooner or later will have DDC without any body or forum above them. This way you will have district assemblies at state level and a strong centre and there will be only bureaucracy that will connect these district bodies with the Centre. This means there will be no assemblies/ no CMs but only Lt Governors. This will depoliticise grass root and these elected members in each district will be busy with their so called developmental works where they will not have even any role in development planning or decisions on allocation etc — that will be decided by centre through its unelected representatives.
The DDC model is literally a move towards turning every state into a UT. BJP has always been a votary of a strong Centre/ centralisation of all power and politics. So, once this DDC model is replicated in other states, the regional politics that is literally the only competition to BJP in the absence of a potent national party will be wiped out.
BJP will only need to make a similar amendment to the central act that they have made to J&K Panchayati Raj Act to introduce election of DDC’s through a direct vote. And they have sufficient numbers in the Parliament to pass such an amendment.
This means there will be DDC in all of 716 districts elected through direct vote with 14 members in each district. And as there is no forum for these DDC’s to come together at state or UT level, they will have no forum to come together. Their role will be exclusively development related and not politics. But that much is sufficient to turn MLAs and state assemblies redundant, making way for their subsequent removal. The new system will have 716 DDCs and each state headed by a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Centre that will run the affairs and a Parliament at the Centre. There can, however, be another direct vote to elect a President. There is also a possibility that the elected MPs and DDCs jointly elect a President in the same manner the President is currently elected. These DDC polls in J&K aren’t only about J&K. It is also a pilot project for all states.
- The article was originally the author’s Facebook Post and is being reproduced here with permission
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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