Azad reaches electorate

In his full-throated address to a huge rally in Billawar, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad touched on a number of issues with which the coalition Government was grappling. His entire speech was interspersed with a vision and clarity which a seasoned and astute politician is expected to demonstrate. While making a passing reference that during Congress-PDP coalition, he was not allowed to complete his full term as Chief Minister in 2007, yet Congress gracefully agreed that Omar Abdullah-led coalition should complete the full term of six years. The bare reason in doing so was to allow the coalition continuity and space for completion of projects it has taken in hand. Obviously, this sensible gesture of Congress creates very conducive environment for the coalition Government to be cooperative and accommodative in regard to the aspirations of the people of the State to whatever shade of opinion they contribute.
Azad has put forth a demand for adequate representation of all the districts of Jammu in the council of ministers.  He has made a valid point that out of ten districts of Jammu, seven go unrepresented and these are mostly economically weaker districts and deserved more generous treatment. He has demanded that at least two ministers from Congress should be inducted in the Council of Ministers which would instill confidence among the people of these districts that they are not relegated to the back burner. Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur and Poonch districts remain unrepresented.  Hopefully Omar Abdullah-led Government will consider this demand keeping in mind that it has to do balancing act from time to time. Azad has at no point criticized the coalition Government for a fault here or there but he is concerned that a number or projects, no fewer that 1500, started during his tenure are moving at snail’s pace. Whosoever be holding the reins of power, the people, by and large, want speedy completion of various projects that have a bearing on their economic life. It is this sentiment which Azad has been expounding. Reservation for economically weaker and backward sections of society is a national issue and the philosophy of tackling it was applicable to Jammu and Kashmir also. The Prime Minister has called a meeting on 5 May to deliberate on the issue of reservation. The State Government has to respond to this need.
Azad was very candid in saying that the union Government was very liberal in providing funds to the State for implementation of various schemes. As such it was the duty of the State Government to speed up implementation of schemes and projects from which benefit accrues to the general public. He said with fair amount of confidence that much had been done to improve medical facilities to the poorer sections of society in the State. A number of schemes were offered. He advised the people that they should derive benefit from the facilities offered by the Government. For this purpose the government had also requisitioned the services of media so that mass awareness was brought to the people. Azad minced no words in stating that his ministry at the centre had taken a note of tardy implementation of Prime Minister’s Rural Health scheme and that he had asked for review of its functioning so that bottlenecks are removed. This scheme is essentially meant to provide succour to the poor and backward sections of our rural population. But he lamented on poor road connectivity of the backward regions in Jammu. Presenting statistics Azad said that Kashmir had 80 per cent road connectivity but Jammu had barely 50 per cent and in Doda district it was about 15 – 20 per cent. True that most of the area in the Chenab River belt of Pir Panchal is hilly in comparison to the plains of the valley, but that does not mean that road connectivity will be left to distant future. We know that connectivity is the first and foremost requirement of economic development of a given area. It has also to be borne in mind that maximum road accidents fatal in character take place along the hilly roads of thee districts. It is a cause of concern. Azad’s speech is a clear message that the coalition Government is stable and strong and that it will work hand in hand to carry the state onwards on the road to progress. He has asked for justice to the backward areas which incidentally are also among his constituency.