JK needs a government, sooner the better
The political logjam appears to be coming to an end. The resent hints and statements issued by the top leadership of BJP-PDP and the tie-up to contest the up-coming Rajya Sabha elections for four seats as two each from Kashmir and Jammu region respectively, due on February 07, 2015 are sufficient indicators. This may lead to the formation of the state’s self-government by the BJP-PDP alliance and an end to Governor Rule.
The subject of Jammu and Kashmir has become enveloped in a dense opacity with layer upon layer of distortions of history, self-serving myths and competing political interests. Therefore, peeling off these layers by revisiting the history and focussing single-mindedly, without prejudice on the real issues involved can only help in search for a better tomorrow for the people of J&K. It is in this context that large turn over in recent elections particularly in the Valley has been a very positive political development, which requires to be respected by putting in place a competent and a stable self-government. People have voted for self-governance and not for Governor rule.
Historically J& K State represents enviable civilization & culture of Hinduism, Islam & Budhism. The three regions, though divergent in all spheres of life, yet integrated as one unit reflecting the true Secular face of Indian State. Unfortunately the State has been in turbulence & ravaged by death & destruction. Having been fatigued by the day to day destruction & the devastation suffered by recent floods people have voted for better self-governance for the welfare and development and also for a dignified resolution of Kashmir imbroglio.
Unfortunately, the three regions have voted differently. The hung assembly has thrown up PDP with 28, BJP with 25, NC with 15, Congress with 12 & others 7. The assembly has not been constituted. On the caretaker CM opting out, Governor’s Rule came in. The normal constitutional process was not resorted to despite some parties having offered support from outside. Resultantly the people’s will has been side-lined so far.
The only workable alliance is that of PDP-BJP coalition to be formed which can serve the people’s interest. The urgency of the formation of self-government is felt by all the sections of society so that the governance is in place. The PDP and BJP has to rise above their party interests and demonstrate statesmanship in the formation of the government leaving behind all the so called contentious and region centric politics. Notwithstanding that the peculiar & sensitive Kashmir situation requires special care and strategy.
It is for this purpose the PDP-BJP combination in Jammu & Kashmir is a better solution to break the logjam & end the Governor rule. In this the person of Mufti M. Syed, a tall, astute, proud, competent & secular leader is very important. He has been the Home Minister of India & the chief Minister of J & K. And while he was CM he engaged with BJP, when NDA was in government at Delhi. PM Narendra Modi and Mufti Syed would be on the same page for development and any other efforts for a durable resolution of Kashmir imbroglio.
The PDP-BJP combination will bring representative character & remove the regional misunderstanding of the three regions. A prominent Kashmiri pandit & one independent MLA from Valley should be made ministers, to make the combine more representative from Kashmir valley. An agreed common minimum program could be the working agenda, rest of the contentious issues can wait as against the priority of development agenda.
The most contentious issue would be the status of Art.370. BJP so far has been advocating abrogation of Article 370 for narrow politics. It has a sensible realization that abrogation is not Constitutionally permissible, and politically not viable. It is also not politically wise as it will result in total alienation of the people in Valley. The election result has thrown up this perception very clearly and loudly. It brought zero result for BJP in the Valley despite repeated visits of PM Modi trumpeting the Vikas (development) agenda and slyly avoiding to mention about Art.370. If Kashmir has to be part of aspirational India as envisioned by Modi, then its distinctiveness has to be upheld within the larger entity of the great Union of India.
Modi has assumed a big stature internationally, back home he is required to lead the Country forward in respect of the people’s aspirations across the length and breadth of the country.
The Jammu and Kashmir policy must coordinate between what we pursue as domestic policy with respect to the State as central government, policies which mainstream political parties pursue in dealing with political, social and economic situation in the state itself – on the one hand, and treatment of Jammu and Kashmir State as an issue with neghbouring country in relation to India’s foreign policy in general. A coherent and effective policy on J&K State must bring all these components together in an internally consistent manner.
The economic reconstruction of the state is the first priority of the new alliance government. In this behalf, the effective governance constitute two main components namely, the redressal of all kinds of grievances of the people and for sustainable economic well-being of the people. In this direction, besides the governments resources, there is a need to mobilize adequate physical and financial resources from alternate sources for reconstruction of state economy. The corporate sector of India can be approached to provide support for various socio-economic activities under the CSR schemes. The economic infrastructure, namely the roads, transport, communication, business establishment, educational institutions, hospitals, tourism and the unemployment etc. should be addressed by the new government on a fast track mode and the Central Government must provide required financial and technical support.
The NGOs and the youth in particular which have rendered commendable services in the recent flood relief activities needs to be involved for alleviating the difficulties. A group of credible NGOs should be identified and to be provided logistic support for enabling them to function in an effective manner and the unemployed youth, associated with them, should be suitably rewarded by way of monetary compensation, to start with.
A group of independent experts needs to be constituted as a task force to take stock of the relief and rehabilitation activities of the flood victims, assess needs of the people/regions through intensive and extensive consultation for uniform economic development in all the three regions and suggest remedial measures for effective delivery of support services.
Modi has created lot of goodwill with Kashmiris by his frequent visits and being there in the hour of need. This will further flourish in the hearts of people if he personally invites Mufti M. Syed to do the real political business with him for the urgent formation of the government in Jammu and Kashmir and end Governor rule.This will accord political respectability to the aspirations of people. Kashmir deserves PM and he deserves Kashmir.
(Author is a Supreme Court Advocate and Chairman, Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)