I have to bring them development and better infrastructure
Peer Shahbaz Ahmad, DDC Member, Verinag
The recently-held District Development Council Elections have laid the foundation for change in Kashmir. DDC elections were held primarily to strengthen democratic institutions at grassroots level. But these elections proved to be the game-changer. They also became the fight against dynastic politics and its exploitative ways.
It was interesting to note that out of 1,040 PAGD candidates in Kashmir valley, 72 candidates belonged to political families. They were the kin of former ministers and legislators of the PDP, NC and Congress clans. The combined political forces of Kashmir valley – NC, PDP, Congress, CPM and others – fought the elections unitedly under the umbrella of PAGD. Despite their united strength, 36 Independent candidates emerged victorious in these elections.
Another highly interesting feature of the DDC elections was that independents all across Jammu and Kashmir got a higher vote share than the combined PAGD forces. This is a clear indication that Kashmir is witnessing political transformation.
Peer Shahbaz Ahmad of the Verinag DDC segment in Anantnag is among those who herald this change.
Talking to K2, Peer Shabaz said, “First and foremost I thank the Almighty Allah. I am happy that I won the DDC elections. Secondly, I thank the people of Vaisoo for having elected me as their candidate.”
Shahbaz said that for the last 18 years, he was associated with the Congress Party as its block president. When they did not give him the party ticket for the DDC election, people encouraged him to contest as an Independent candidate. “People told me that you have the kind of potential that you can win in your individual capacity. We will support you.”
Shahbaz said the purpose of the District Development Councils is to work for development in the local areas. “We have to strengthen our education system. We have to repair the roads, the buildings, other infrastructure. Most people show up only for elections and votes. After their victory, they don’t show up for several years. People face many problems in rural areas. In case of a medical emergency, they have to walk for miles to get adequate health care. During my interactions with the people of my area, I promised them that I shall always fulfill your genuine demands related to development work. I am sure that the LG Mr Sinha will support me for development in my area and also in my efforts to ensure a better environment.”
At 32 years of age, Peer Shahbaz is a young DDC Member. He says he is blessed with the full support of his family. His wife is a government employee in the Social Welfare Department.
Shahbaz says that he shared his manifesto with the people of his area and got their full support. “I interacted extensively with the youth of Verinag. I shared my manifesto with them. They supported me and said they saw potential in me,” said Shabaz. “The youth told me, We will lead you to your victory. Winning is fun but it is also time to fulfill my promise to the people of my area,” said Shahbaz.