In the first week of November Election Commissioner of India (ECI) after declaring that the state assembly elections will be conducted in flood hit Jammu and Kashmir from 20th November onwards in a five phased process, said that the process of relief work will not be hampered by model code of conduct. It laid to rest the argument put forward by ruling NC that the time is not ripe for elections in J&K given the devastations caused by the September floods.
But as the process of elections started, both ECI and local administrative set-up got consumed in the process to make elections in conflict torn J&K a success. Rehabilitation of flood affected people took a backseat, putting them at the mercy of harsh weather and unsympathetic government officials. In absence of a government that could have addressed their woes people were left to fetch for themselves. There are still thousands of families who live in make-shift tents. No alternative arrangements have been made for them to cope up with the extreme weather conditions prevalent in the valley. All of a sudden they are forgotten in the din of canvassing and celebrations. Ironically, every political aspirant swore to work for the betterment of the flood affected in their election speeches but nobody actually cared about what these people are going through in order to survive. Even the ECI could not keep its promise of not derailing the process of rehabilitation.
In fact, it took High Court’s repeated warning to set the pace of rehabilitation back on tract – at least to some extent. The new deadline for handing over the shelter sheds to flood affected families is set to 1st January, 2015. It is sad that even four months after worst floods devastated a major part of Kashmir valley, people are not being provided alternative shelters, which in any case should have been the priority.
But with results of the state assembly elections already out and a fractured verdict looking gapingly at all political establishments, formation of new government is the new key word in Kashmir. Who will form the government is the only thing that is on every politicians mind. Floods have already taken backseat and forgotten by these representatives. However, given the political unsuitability that looms large over Kashmir’s political landscape, any new establishment that will take charge of government is least likely to take rehabilitation of flood affected on priority basis. A fractured mandate is in nobody’s interest as it makes the process of governance a hectic affair. Let us hope that whosoever comes to power in Kashmir in these troubled times, speedy post-flood rehabilitation should be the first priority. Otherwise after floods, it is the shivering souls that will haunt politicians in 2020 elections.