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Peaceful DDC polls a new chapter in democracy: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Praising the Lieutenant Governor’s administration for the “peaceful and successful” conduct of the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the people of J&K wrote a new chapter in India’s democracy by participating in huge numbers.

“I was observing how people, including elderly women and youth, were in long queues outside polling booths despite the COVID-19 pandemic and cold. Every voter was wearing a smile and exuded a hope for better tomorrow,” said Mr. Modi speaking during the virtual inaugurated the Ayushman Bharat-Sehat scheme in Srinagar.

The Prime Minister described the polls as steps towards “strengthening the roots of democracy” in J&K. “The completion of DDC polls puts in place a three-tier panchayat raj system, fulfilling the Mahatma Gandhi’s Gram Swarajya dream. I don’t have words to felicitate the officials. You have made entire India feel proud by conducting these polls,” he said.

He said “the only reason” his party pulled out of the PDP-BJP alliance in 2018 was “that we wanted panchayat elections to be held in J&K”.

“These elected people belong to the grassroots and have suffered equally. They will work for the people in villages and districts,” he added.

On the frequent shelling across the Line of Control shelling by Pakistan, Mr. Modi said, “It has always been a concern for us. We have taken a series of steps to protect the border residents and to ensure development of border areas. Security forces, however, have been given a free hand.”

Referring to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr. Modi said, “Vajpayee would always talk of Kashmiryat, Jhamooriyat and Insaniyat. We are following the mantra today.”

‘J&K most peaceful’

Speaking on the occasion, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the PM’s efforts since 2014 “have started bearing fruit”.

“J&K is witnessing the most peaceful atmosphere, for the first time since the 1990s. Development and tourism was not possible without peace. I am glad to see tourism picking up in Kashmir,” Mr. Shah said.

He said the DDC polls were the first such elections where not a single drop of the blood was shed. “By conducting peaceful polls, the Government of India has fulfilled its promise of taking democracy to grassroots level in J&K. The local representatives will take up the governance related issues and resolve them on priority. Money will directly reach villages and districts rather than the J&K administration,” he added.

He said since August 5, 2019, when the Centre ended J&K’s special status, developmental initiatives and infrastructure building received a major push. “Times ahead will be known as the most peaceful era in J&K,” he added.

Meanwhile, under the new health scheme, every member of a family in J&K will get ₹5 lakh health insurance cover in 229 government hospitals and 35 private empanelled hospitals.

“Time is not far when the ailing people of J&K won’t need to come to Delhi or any state of India for treatment. Quality treatment will be delivered right in their own region or district,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 9:48:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-modi-launches-ayushman-bharat-scheme-to-extend-health-insurance-coverage-to-all-jk-residents/article33422592.ece

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