Modi said the Panchayati Raj system has achieved perfection in Jammu and Kashmir

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday lauded the conduct of the recent elections to the District Development Councils in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at an event to extend a health scheme to Jammu and Kashmir, ANI reported Modi said, "The people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for strengthening democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. People of all walks of life came out and voted for development in DDC elections."

The DDC polls were conducted for the first time after Modi's government had abrogated Article 370 and revoked statehood for Jammu and Kashmir last year.

Modi said, "On the face of every voter in Jammu and Kashmir, I saw an expectation for development. In the eyes of every voter in Jammu and Kashmir, I saw the belief of a better future, leaving behind the past.”

Modi declared the people of Jammu and Kashmir had "strengthened the roots of democracy" through the DDC elections.

Modi argued, "This three-tier panchayat system in Jammu and Kashmir has fulfilled Mahatma Gandhi's dream of village Swaraj. The Panchayati Raj system in the country has achieved perfection in the land of Jammu and Kashmir today."

Modi emphasised the importance of local bodies in welfare. "The responsibility of the panchayats is now much larger to meet the needs of the poor. Its benefit is also visible in Jammu and Kashmir. Electricity reached every village of Jammu and Kashmir; villages here have become open defecation free," he said.

Modi also reiterated his commitment to the development of Jammu and Kashmir. He said, "Today, the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the highest priorities of our government. Whether it is women's empowerment, an opportunity for the youth, the goal of the welfare of the Dalits… deprived… or the constitutional and basic rights of the people.”

Modi claimed the BJP had parted ways with the PDP in 2018 on the issue of holding local body polls. Modi said, "There was a time, we were a part of the Jammu and Kashmir government, but we broke the alliance. Our issue was that panchayat elections should be held and people be given their due rights to choose their representatives."

Earlier, Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat scheme via videoconferencing to extend health insurance coverage to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Prime Minister's Office said the scheme will ensure universal health coverage and focus on providing financial risk protection and ensuring quality and affordable essential health services to all individuals and communities.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Union territory's Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, also spoke on the occasion.

The scheme will provide free-of-cost insurance cover to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir, the PMO said, adding that it will extend financial cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family on a floater basis to all residents of the UT.

There is provision for operational extension of the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana' (PM-JAY) to approximately 15 lakh additional families, the PMO statement said, adding that the scheme will operate on insurance mode in convergence with PM-JAY.