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Consensus Better Way of Local Bodies Elections
Jamwal Mahadeep Singh9/8/2018 10:08:18 PM
A doctrine of 'consensus politics' embraces notions of strength, continuity and, most particularly, a perception of change. It can demonstrate how policy development is a product of 'agreement on procedures'. It may also promote an understanding of both policy and political change as an alteration in governing political agendas informed by dominant political ideas. Changing trends required in local body lections is to arrive at a consensus rather than to put the people on dividing lines for political gain on divide and rule policy. This will never create harmony among societies. Now we see consensus is the only factor for an equitable development at the ward and Panchayat level. There are still people in politics who believe in consensus politics and they are the real hero of a change. The consensus politics subsume the traditional policy differences and narrow down the ideological gap between the parties and promote progressive politics.
Consensus denote generally as accepted opinion or decision among a group of people. What when we look for the term in election process, irrespective of their involvement in any field, in Parliamentary, Assembly, or local body elections, the choice is the prerogative of the political parties those in fray and this option does not rest with contestants as well as those who are the deciding factor in election process. Without commenting on Parliamentary or Assembly elections, my context for consensus rests on Local body elections that are required to be kept out of the preview of turning wards and panchayats into battle ground of election process, where just less than 1500 people have to look for a right choice competent enough to vision for regulating, providing, looking and maintaining some of the basic needs of a citizen enshrined in the Municipal or Panchayat Acts. If we have a visit to The Jammu & Kashmir Municipal Act 2000, we become aware that the Act has shouldered some exclusive responsibilities on the body designated as Municipal Committee for small towns, Municipal Council for Medium Towns and Municipal Corporations for Jammu city & Kashmir city. These functions we can enlist as: preparation of plans for economic development, Urban/Town planning, regulation of Municipality land use and construction of buildings, maintenance of roads within its jurisdiction, solid waste management, protection of ecological aspects, safe guarding the interests of weaker sections, slum improvement and its up=gradations, provisioning for urban amenities and facilities such as: parks, gardens and play grounds regulation of amenities such as: street lightening, parking lots, Bus stops and public conveniences., provisioning of burial and cremation grounds, provisioning and maintenance of cattle ponds as well as cruelty to animals, management of slaughter houses, vital statics including registration of birth and death.
If we have to look to the assigned functions of the municipal committees and municipal councils, we find there is no space for politics in accomplishing these responsibilities, but the trends of the Government, its decision to hold urban elections on party basis and Panchayat elections on non-party basis appears not to be conceptualized in the right direction. In the elections based on party basis, it is an exercise that creates wedges in-between the societies, and even in the family set up. The party's preferences are to consolidate their set up in the urban bodies and to push their political agenda with the aim of consolidating the vote bank for assembly elections in their mind. Partisan vs. nonpartisan elections especially in local body elections must be an agenda for debate among public forum. Proponents of nonpartisan ballots generally hinges on two aspects: One suggests that Political parties are irrelevant to providing services and the other aspect is of cooperation between elected officials belonging to different parties is more likely. Proponents for partisan elections argue that: The absence of party labels confuses voters. This may sound well in Parliament/Assembly elections but so far as the local body elections are concerned, I argue that voters have to chose a candidate, a thruster, upon the voters, may be unknown to the society, thus it will have no meaningful basis in casting a ballot. In the absence of a party ballot, voters will turn to whatever cue is available, which often turns out to be the ethnicity of a candidate's name is also expressed by the people. But in local body elections it is the voters of the concerned ward or Panchayat, even less than 1500, which are required to look for a justified representative, so consensus candidate is the choice of that ward or Panchayat, who can deliver in a better way having mandate of all political parties. Non-partisanship tends to produce elected officials more representative of the upper socioeconomic strata than of the general populace and aggravates the class bias in voting turnout, because in true non-partisan systems there are no organizations of local party workers to bring citizens to the polls on election day and it is the enthusiasm of individual voter that compel them to register their thumbing on the EVM. As it is said the problem with democracy is voters. Our voting system worked well for decades, but now it is broken. There is a better way to give voice to the people and that way is to go for non-party elections and let it be a free will of the people uninfluenced by the political agendas of political parties and utmost requirement is within local body elections. The voters are bombarded by the political parties by every conceivable form of manipulation. It is time to come out from the frame as we have convinced ourselves that the only way to choose a representative is through the ballot box. Those elections have all kinds of outcomes in wards and Panchayats that are fragile, including violence, tensions, criminality and corruption. We can simply say that elections in local bodies do not automatically foster development, but may instead prevent or destroy it, owing to the reasons of politically charged representatives. There are number of reasons why non-party elections should take place in Municipal elections. National party levels in Municipal elections served to distract the intentions of the voters from real municipal issues. The political parties create a smoke screen to prevent the voters from realizing the actual issues. The real issues in the Municipal elections are in the main administrative efficiency and not that issues of policies upon which political parties might differ. Ultimate requirement for better bodies in Municipalities and Town areas is the return of experienced, literate, visionary, selfless and dedicated persons and this aspect is required to be explored and propagated rather than to look for better candidates from political parties. It is the voter, real force, who can decide the best person among them and cannot be expected from political parties having their own agenda in mind and that is the expansion of vote bank for his party.
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