SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s star constituency of Ganderbal is suffering from an overdose of attention. For this central Kashmir district known as the state’s political centre of gravity, the overt and excessive presence of the government and its machinery has perversely translated into erratic power supply, clogged drains and a general slowdown of development.
Instrumental in maintaining the political monopoly of the National Conference (NC), Ganderbal has always been an Omar bastion. However, too many cooks are ruining the Ganderbal broth now. Abdullah may have always pitched for “red-tape-free” governance, but in his own constituency the number of party workers, activists and leaders has increased exponentially. Residents claim that this has resulted in a “multiplicity” of governance which is leading to misgovernance and hijacking of development works.
Ashfaq Ahmed, a Ganderbal resident from Waaliwar, says “Every person having even a remote association with the NC claims to be the sole authority and this has led to crisis of a definitive government representative in the district.” He further adds, “A village of 61 households on Ganderbal outskirts has 22 NC representatives and each uses his party influence to divert development works to its side for votebank politics. This results in internecine fights; freeze of development works and causes people to suffer.”
Ajaz Wani, another resident, says Ganderbal district has a poor record in the utilisation of funds provided under various Central employment schemes in rural areas. “It is sad that under the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), meant to create employment in the rural areas, not a single penny has been spent in this district during 2010-11 because they are busy arguing and pushing it according to their own benefits. Who is to be blamed for this? Let the government fix the responsibility by launching a high-level inquiry into the issue. Why let people suffer when money is available?” asks Ajaz.
An NC worker says things went bad after the 2008 elections which saw his party back in power. A PDP activist says the NC is “insecure because it does not wants to take the risk of losing Ganderbal and that is why the number of NC workers has swelled from the last few years. They don’t care about the people’s sufferings only they care about is power and vote bank politics.”