Coalition promised sky, delivers little
Assurances Made In 2008 Polls Yet To Be Fulfilled
Srinagar, June 6: With the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir having completed over two years in power, the alliance partners - National Conference and Congress - have been found to be wanting on the performance front. And this is notwithstanding the tall promises on good governance that the two parties made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir during the assembly elections in 2008.
A cursory look at the “2008 Election Manifesto” of the National Conference reflects the promises which range from bigger political issues like restoration of autonomy, better coordination between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, setting up of Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the governance issues like revival of the State Accountability Commission and giving more teeth to the State Vigilance Organization to end corruption. But as on date, almost nothing has translated into reality, indicating party’s dismal performance on the ground.
WHERE IS AUTONOMY?
On page no. 4 of the NC manifesto, the party writes: “We promise, if elected to power, to translate this manifesto in letter and spirit and re-establish the people’s faith in the system. We will give a new dimension to the state’s development and evolve policies that ensure people’s progressive welfare.”
The restoration of state’s autonomy, the party mentions, continues to be the bedrock of its policy and agenda. “Under the provisions of the Instrument of Accession, the Federal Constitution and the Nehru-Abdullah Accord, popularly known as the Delhi agreement of 1952, we enjoyed a guaranteed quantum of autonomy till 1953. Our party will continue to strive for complete restoration of the special status that formed the basis of Srinagar-Delhi relationship after prolonged deliberations between the leadership of India and Jammu and Kashmir,” the Manifesto mentions. The promise, however, is yet to be kept.
While New Delhi has appointed three interlocutors for a sustained dialogue on Kashmir, they are yet to give any indication of restoring the state’s autonomy.
NO WAR ON CORRUPTION
While the poll manifesto promised war against corruption, it seems to be nowhere in sight. Instead the premier anti-corruption bodies have been left to rot despite huge spending on them from the state exchequer. “To bring transparency and accountability back into the system, the Vigilance Organization will be made stronger and given sharper teeth for effective functioning. We will restore the authority of the State Accountability Commission and provide it with logistic support so that it becomes the most preventive weapon against all types of corruption,” the NC Manifesto reads. However, the SAC continues to remain defunct in absence of a chairman and members for the past two years while the Vigilance Organization has been rendered dysfunctional with the new legislation—the J&K State Vigilance Commission Act of 2010—coming into force. The Act however drew flak from a number of Right to Information activists following which the state put the draft in public domain recently for feedback.
DAA, AFSPA NOT REVOKED
The NC’s poll manifesto promises to “take necessary steps to do away with the anti-people laws like the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.” But the two Acts are very much in existence in Jammu and Kashmir, even though there are strong voices in favour of their removal. On February 19 this year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the state government and Government of India (GoI) were thinking on the same lines regarding review of AFSPA, Disturbed Areas Act from certain parts of the state. Omar said the two committees of the Unified Headquarters constituted to look into review of AFSPA and DAA and identify the areas for this purpose are working in complete conformity with the recommendations made by the Union Cabinet Committee on security. But so far is it unclear as to why the Acts are not being revoked or amended if the “GOI and state government are on the same page over the issue.” Pertinently on May 14 this year, Army said it has given recommendations on the applicability of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and is yet to get a response from him on the issue.
NO IMPROVEMENT IN CROSS LoC TRADE
The NC manifesto also promised to “strive for free trade and traffic from the present trickle, a hassle free entry/exit of the state subjects and better coordination between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.”
The current status of the cross LoC trade, however, is that the traders of both routes of state—Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote—have suspended it.
The traders demand immediate removal of administrative and procedural anomalies, threatening to halt the trade which was started in 2008.
FORGOTTEN VERBAL ASSURANCES
In their poll campaign, the political leaders of National Conference made countless promises “for the welfare of Aam Aadmi” (common man). These, however, seem to have been forgotten. This newspaper scanned some of the speeches made by the NC leaders during the poll campaign in 2008.
On November 21, 2008, the then president of National Conference, Omar Abdullah, said his party would work for providing relief to common man by slashing the prices of the essential commodities, if voted to power. “Besides addressing the issues of unemployment the NC would bring a sigh of relief to Aam Adami battered by soaring prices of commodities. The cost of LPG cylinders would be slashed by Rs 50 and the power tariff would also be lowered drastically,” Omar said addressing road shows in his home constituency, Ganderbal. But the prices of essential commodities, including the LPG, have gone up considerably in the past two years. And same is the situation with power tariff, which has not been lowered. This year, the power scenario in winter was pathetic, much to the annoyance of the people.
CONGRESS NO DIFFERENT
Like National Conference, the Congress Poll Manifesto promised a lot. But little has been translated into reality. The party assured that “it will remain in the vanguard in the effort to institute Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that will not only promote cross LoC passenger travel and trade and people-to-people contact, but strengthen understanding among people at all levels.”
“In this connection, the Party will seek to streamline procedures of travel across the LoC to avoid inconvenience to the commuters,” the Manifesto said. But so far the promise remains unfulfilled.
The party has also failed to “review the cases of detainees who are not involved in grave offences and seek their release”, as promised in the Manifesto. The Congress also envisaged “putting in a sizeable effort to bring all the tourist places in Jammu and Kashmir to the notice of the international community.” But while there are voices in favour of restoration of international flights to Kashmir to give fillip to the tourism sector, nothing substantial is being done to make it happen. This is despite the fact that Congress is in power at the Centre while the Minister for Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir is also from the same party.
The party also promised “all out efforts to retrieve the lakes like Wullar, Dal, Anchar, Nigeen, Mansar and Surinsar.” But, according to officials, there is scanty attention paid to these water bodies which are deteriorating with each passing day.
‘PROGRESS ON SOME FRONTS’
If the coalition government has made any progress on any front, it is with regard to the Panchayat Raj. Both Congress and National Conference promised strengthening of Panchayat Raj institutions in the state. While, according to observers, it remains to be seen how the Panchs and Sarpanchs will work at the grassroots level, they acknowledge holding of the Panchayat elections. “We want to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level,” said a senior Congress leader. “Both NC and Congress want to do this and holding of the Panchayat elections is a step in that direction.”
There are other issues that have been raised in the election manifestos. These are related to agriculture, tourism, horticulture, employment generation, law and order, power scenario, human rights and women empowerment. But while most of them have been left unattended for the past two years, those taken up have not been completed so far.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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