Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the recently held District Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir marked a new chapter and strengthened India’s democracy.

“In each phase of the elections, I saw young and old and women come out to vote in spite of the cold and the coronavirus situation,” he said. “I could see the belief of leaving the past behind in the eyes of each voter.”

Referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance with Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, Modi said that the saffron party broke the alliance as it wanted that elections to local bodies be held.

He then attacked the Congress, without naming the party directly, for delay in holding local body elections in the Union Territory of Puducherry, reported ANI.

“Elections are not being held in Puducherry even after the Supreme Court has directed to conduct them at Panchayat and municipal levels,” Modi said. “Those who keep on teaching me lessons on democracy are the ones who are running the government there.”

The prime minister was addressing the launch of the Ayushman Bharat scheme via video conferencing. The scheme will extend health insurance coverage to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme is aimed at ensuring universal health coverage and providing quality and affordable essential health services to all individuals in the Union Territory, PTI reported.

Modi also listed various central schemes that were being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that the benefits reached the people of the Union Territory even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jammu and Kashmir is now developing at the same pace as the rest of the country,” he claimed. “It is commendable how the pandemic was dealt with. There has never been so much focus on Jammu and Kashmir’s health sector.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jammu Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha also spoke on the occasion. Sinha claimed that over 10 lakh farmers of Jammu and Kashmir have received financial assistance under PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.