T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue X

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

February 2003

I N S I D E


 

Spotlight 

Romeet K WATT

 

Comment     

Balraj Puri

 

Column     

Sunita Vakil                          

View Point      

Romeet K WATT

 

On Track     

Romeet K Watt 

                  

Opinion

Sushil Vakil

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Romeet K WATT

 

Perspective

T R Jawahar

 

Last Word

Sunita Vakil 

 

                            


 

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V I E W   P O I N T

J & K: The inside story

Romeet K Watt


The present dispensation headed by Mufti Sayeed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is moving ahead with positive strides, nonetheless, along the way there are a few things that have taken place, by design or naively, which may have staid ramifications for the expectations of the government to translate its electoral promises into accomplishments. The main opposition party, the National Conference is also monitoring the situation on day to day basis, and though they have stopped short of out-rightly criticizing the government, some of the indicators that have emerged in the past few months should make the NC leadership smile for all the right reasons.

 

The much awaited expansion of the council of ministers undertaken by the PDP-led government has been a major source of ‘on the warpath feelings’ surfacing against the present regime with the people of Jammu, Kashmiri Pundits, and Sikhs feeling left out in the whole scheme of things. The exclusion of Raman Bhalla, a prominent Congress leader from Jammu, from the council of ministers has led to wide-spread protests in Jammu, with some of his supporters even attempting self-immolation.

 

Another prominent dalit women from Jammu also could not find place in the council of ministers, which has been severely criticized by the local media. It is pertinent to point that despite tall promise made by the Congress leadership from time to time on the question of representation to women in legislature, the present dispensation does not have even a single ‘token’ women minister.

 

As a result the Congress if the indications are to be believed, is fast losing ground in Jammu, a region, which sent the maximum number of its legislators to state assembly. The loss of Congress is the gain for the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Though, in the past, for the records, the BJP has opposed a separate statehood for Jammu, however with the election of Prof. Nirmal Singh as the President of the state unit of BJP, there is every likelihood that pro Jammu statehood forces -- RSS, Jammu State Morcha, and ABVP, would join hand with the BJP, after all Prof Nirmal Singh is an old RSS man, and has been in the past the President of the state unit of ABVP, the students wing of RSS.

 

Nevertheless, the BJP might not do a U-turn on its stated policy, (read: no trifurcation) however that shall not stop them from bringing together pro-Hindutva forces together as a cohesive force, which would really put a lot of pressure on the Congress leadership in the region, and more so because the local Congress leadership is feeling betrayed at the non-inclusion of some of the popular and prominent leaders in the recently expanded council of ministers.

 

The Sikh minority in the state is also up in arms against the present dispensation for non-representation to their community in the expanded council of ministers. Nevertheless, PDP-led government has nominated prominent farmer leader from Jammu, Trilok Singh Bajwa to the Rajya Sabha, the Sikh community still feels that due representation has not been given to the Sikh community at the state level. Some of the Sikh organizations have even launched a scathing attack on the state and central government charging them with having stage managed the massacres of Sikhs with the aid of Indian intelligence agencies, and has demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

Many believe that such antagonistic approach adopted by a section of the Sikh leadership in the state is a part of their pressure tactics to arm-twist the PDP-led coalition into accepting their demand for representation in the council of ministers.  

 

Much accolades have been showered by the nation mainstream newspapers on the Mufti Sayeed led government for its decision to set-up regional autonomous council for the Ladakh (read Leh) region, however speaking to Kashmir TELEGRAPH, noted writer, and columnist, Balraj Puri was of the view that the basic premise for setting up a regional autonomous council should be regional concerns and not religious considerations. The mechanism set-up by the government, according to Puri has religion as an underlying premise, which in itself defeats the purpose of setting up a region council for development for the region.

 

Such attempts, Puri points out would further cause schisms between Muslims (predominantly Shia) and Buddhists, the two main constituents of the populace in the Ladakh region. Moreover, the delay in setting up of the region autonomous council for Jammu is not going well with the people of the Jammu region. The Congress party had this issue as a part of its election manifesto, which to a large extent contributed to its resounding success in the election. Nevertheless, no sooner did it join hands with the PDP for government formation, the party buried the issue. Autonomous region council for Jammu, it is pertinent to point out, does not find a place in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), and such does not seem to be on the agenda of the present dispensation, at least for sometime.

 

Kashmiri Pundits, another minority in the state, though a political non-entity, are very vocal in expressing themselves, and as such their assertions do carry some weight in the given scheme of things. Mufti Sayeed has given representation to the Pundit community in form of Raman Mattoo by inducting him as a Minister of State (MoS), however this has not gone well with the large section of the community, who point out that Sayeed has conveniently ignored some of the prominent members of the community from his own party in the process.

 

A prominent PDP leader speaking to Kashmir TELEGRAPH on the condition of anonymity said that there is a lot of resentment not only in the rank and file in the party but also in the Pundit community over the non-inclusion of senior PDP leader, B K Vaishnavi. PDP functionary pointed out that the constituency from where Raman Mattoo was declared elected to the state legislative assembly had a voter turn out of paltry 1.62 percent, the lowest in any constituency, and as such confirms the contentions that Mattoo does not have much of a following within his own community.

 

B K Vaishnavi, one may be bring to mind has been a close associate of Mufti Sayeed, and has supported him though thick and thin, and as such it is but natural for his party cadres to feel disappointed at his non-inclusion. Incidentally Vaishnavi, is also believed to be close to a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, Amarjeet Singh Daulat, presently with the Prime Ministers Office (PMO). Daulat, if the indications are to be believed, is unhappy with Mufti Sayeed for not including B K Vaishnavi in the council of ministers.

 

The trends that are emerging may not be alarm bells for Mufti Sayeed government, but it is essential that in his pursuit of accomplishing economic revival of the state, he does not by design or naively, overlooks the indicators that are emerging, due to some of his policy measures. It is never too late to mend things or correct the incorrect. Hopefully, he will look at the whole scheme of things in retrospection, and do whatever he deems fit is necessary to function as a state where all the three regions, along with all sections of the society are in tune, and in agreement with his ‘healing touch’ policy. Tall order, but achievable!

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