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Mufti needs to get down to work instead of meeting with Shah Rukh Khan

Naseer Ganai
Naseer GanaiMay 04, 2015 | 13:29

Mufti needs to get down to work instead of meeting with Shah Rukh Khan

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had created a perception around itself; that once it comes to power, it would not only provide good roads in J&K, it would also ensure reconciliation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, open the road to Skardu and remove AFSPA, among other things.  

For the party's rank and file, the primary reason for an alliance with the BJP was that the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre would be generous in providing funds to cash-starved Jammu and Kashmir which would help in governance. The party gave an impression that if it entered into alliance with Congress or National Conference, the BJP would choke it. Let us take the governance agenda first. Kashmir valley suffered enormous devastation in 2014 floods.

The Omar Abdullah-led government had sought assistance of Rs 44,000 crore from the Centre after initial assessment of loss to rebuild Kashmir's economy, two months after the floods. There can be a difference in the assessment but there can be no denial of the devastation which directly affected 12 lakh families in the valley. Mufti's government says the Centre has provided only Rs 1,500 crore for the flood affected. There has been no other assistance. 

This has led to frustration on the ground and PDP ministers are showing helplessness in tackling the crises as all roads in Srinagar are in a shambles. In far-flung districts, the situation is worse. It takes five to six hours to cover 70 km to reach to Anantnag from Srinagar.  The condition of roads is such that National Conference president, Farooq Abdullah, recently preferred to go by train to Anantnag rather than visiting south Kashmir by road. Srinagar is rife with dust and disease. Contractors are waiting for release of pending bills, pensioners are waiting for pension, employees for salary, and Mufti is meeting Shah Rukh Khan. 

There is no visible movement on the governance front in the State since Mufti took over. There are only statements and counter statements. Separatists are giving statements and the BJP leaders including its minister of the state in the PMO, Jitendra Singh, are ready with reactions.  Last week, protests were held in Jammu after the Centre announced an AIIMS-like institution for Kashmir, and an IIT and IIM to Jammu.

The agitators in Jammu say they deserve the AIIMS. This is likely to snowball into major controversy. Instead of holding talks with the state government to tackle the issue, Singh sided with agitators and said the AIIMS must go to Jammu. This is the sensitivity with which the Union minister responds to a situation in Jammu and Kashmir. This is level of comfort between the BJP and the PDP. 

During the parleys between the PDP and the BJP on the coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP proudly described Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as a "proud Indian" and said the talks were between the proud Indians and India. Mufti sought certain assurances from the BJP over Article 370. 

The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the PDP-BJP government insists that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will be maintained. It provides room for gradual revocation of the AFSPA by diluting disturbed areas notification issued under AFSPA by the State government twice.  

Soon after assuming power, Mufti as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, started experimenting with his "battle of ideas" strategy. The battle of ideas is a strategy to let all separatists free, provide them a space and allow them to preach whatever they want to. Mufti believes that once the government lets separatists spread across and there are no human rights violation on the part of the Army, paramilitary forces and the police, people will gradually stop listening to separatists.

In fact, he appealed separatists to follow the example of Sajad Gani Lone, who is now cabinet minister in Mufti regime. However, once he let out separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who was released by court, without slapping another preventive detention law against him, he faced antagonism to his "battle of ideas" from New Delhi. The Centre also didn't take the routine of raising Pakistani flags in Kashmir lightly. The government arrested Bhat. Separatists felt elated and said Mufti had failed miserably in executing his battle of ideas, which they see as Mufti's soft anti-separatist operation.  

Since Mufti and the BJP are not on the same page on "battle of ideas", many in PDP think Mufti should do what Ghulam Nabi Azad did during his tenure as chief minister till he was grounded by the PDP over the transfer of land to Amarnath Shrine Board in 2008. Once during a debate in the J&K House in 2006 on human rights, Azad said the J&K Assembly had no business in resolving Kashmir issue.  Azad said he was in Jammu and Kashmir to usher an era of development and the Kashmir issue would be resolved by India and Pakistan. 

Azad's immediate successor, Omar Abdullah, while addressing his first election rally in Budgam in 2008, said the day separatists would say they would provide water, electricity, roads and houses to people, he would give up mainstream politics. He said the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir had nothing to do with resolving Kashmir issue. He had said his politics was to provide development to people. 

In spite of having an avowed political agenda of autonomy, National Conference left it behind as it realised that New Delhi doesn't take the political agenda of the elected governments of Jammu and Kashmir seriously.

However, the Omar Abdullah government failed miserably on the governance front too, consequently getting reduced to 15 seats from 28 in 2014 elections. 

Since the BJP is not interested in the "battle of ideas" and Mufti's ideas of resolving Kashmir issue, the perception is that the Mufti government should do what it has a mandate for - providing roads, electricity and water to people, and helping flooded affected and flood impacted to rebuild the lives and leave the resolution of Kashmir issue to India and Pakistan. 

Last updated: May 04, 2015 | 13:29
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