If the Government has a point to make by pressing ahead with the local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir in the face of a boycott by the regional parties, we are not aware of it. If the idea is to somehow create a façade of self-governance at the village and town levels, the effort has come unstuck with the fear of terrorists keeping people away from the polling booths. Eight per cent polling in the Valley in the first phase of polling on Monday only goes to underline the alienation of the voters from the democratic process. In Jammu and Ladakh the success of the local bodies’ poll was never in doubt.
True, the government could not have left Kashmir out from the poll process but the near-total boycott by the local voters exposes further the chinks in government’s armour. According recognition to the winners of the poll in Kashmir elected on less than a double-digit polling percentage would be a travesty of the democratic process. Instead, these local bodies should be kept in suspended animation and their affairs handled by groups of eminent men and women who are willing to improve their own and their neighbours’ civic environment. But in no case should anyone pretend that the winners of the local bodies poll in the Valley enjoy popular support.