Prime Minister Narender Modi's initiative to convene a meeting of all political leaders, having divergent views, to abridge an existing gap of mistrust will go a long way in exhibiting the sincere
intentions of centre to bring people of Jammu and Kashmir in national mainstream. It will also reassure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that they enjoy every fundamental right to progress on the path of development to carve out their bright future.
Analysts believe that meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and every Kashmiri leader got an opportunity to express his or her views without any inhibition; this will contribute immensely.
in laying down the foundation of democracy which involves the measures like completion of delimitation of constituencies, holding the elections, and restoration of statehood. Political parties, however, differed from the centre's chronological order and first demanded the restoration of statehood which should be followed by polls and delimitation exercise.
Observers point out that dialogue always leads to reduce a trust deficit gap and current initiative has also given an evidence of neutralizing to some extent the bitterness prevailing amongst people and political parties which preceded the abrogation of article 370 and 35 A in 2019. The clamping of centre rule and other restrictions added to the woes of people which were relaxed with the passage of time.
Former Chief Minister, Mahbooba Mufti was blunt when she emphasized the dire need of resumption of dialogue with Pakistan which, she felt, is necessary for restoring peace in the valley.
Experts believe that Modi did try to break the ice when he invited former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif for the swearing in ceremony in 2014 and later attended a family function which was not approved by the army. The reports indicate that ceasefire on LOC was possible due to mediation by the United Arab Emirates, having friendly ties with India as well as Pakistan.
Experts believe that the Government of India's practice of having bureaucrats or undeserving persons as governors of Jammu and Kashmir could not contribute much except N.N.Vohra who had tried his best to deliver the desired results.
Now a seasoned politician, Manoj Sinha is Lt governor of Jammu and Kashmir. He is leaving no stone unturned to understand the psyche of people after abrogation of article 370 and 35 A. Sinha has got a daunting task of winning the confidence of people and accomplish the task of delimitation, conducting free and fair assembly polls besides restoration of statehood which has been promised by centre.
Political observers are debating the chronology order of the centre to start with a delimitation exercise which will be followed by elections and finally statehood. But Kashmiri leaders, including Congress, want the order differently; first Statehood then elections whereas delimitation exercise in the end after the elected government assumes office in Srinagar.
Experts say that these leaders may have their opinions vis -a -vis centre’s Action Plan hence they strongly favour restoration of statehood at the top of agenda as it would create very good feelings amongst the people across the state besides enhancing the chances of the participation in the assembly elections. They feel that delimitation exercise is done under the supervision of centre by a delimitation commission which may create ‘suspicion’ in the mind of citizens as caste, geographical zones and suitability factors may come into play to help a particular political party.
According to RSS leader and former BJP incharge of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, Prime Minister’s meeting with the leaders of various political parties from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is significant for several reasons.
First, not a single invitee skipped or boycotted the meet. Second, this was perhaps the longest all-party meeting held on J&K in several years. The leaders spent close to four hours with the PM and his team. Third, not one of them has complained about the proceedings. On the contrary, everyone, including Mehbooba Mufti, admitted that the meeting was cordial, and they got an opportunity to candidly convey their views without anybody contradicting or interrupting them. He feels that Delhi should draw the right inferences from it. Although delayed, as the PM admitted, this was an important move by him to complete the process initiated two years ago by annulling Article 370 and 35A. The response of the political stakeholders at the meet, especially those from the Valley, should be seen by Delhi as a reflection of the current sentiment among the people.
As per officials, 400 memoranda of understanding from businesses nationwide have been received promising to invest in Jammu and Kashmir which will be tested once the money actually flows in which will depend upon the peace and incentives given by the centre and an elected government takes charge in Srinagar.
(K.S.Tomar is a political analyst)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.