Mr. Chief Minister : Welcome to Jammu

Ashok Bhan
Mr. Chief Minister,welcome to winter capital of Durbar of governance Jammu. This is the land of peace,temples & Darghas, inhabited by peaceful people belonging to diverse communities, castes and sections living in harmonious co- existence.  The people are decent, competent, secular, accommodative, enterprising, industrious and greatly sweet.
“Mithi Jayee Dograin The Boli Khand Mithe Loge Dogre”
(Sweet is the language of people of Jammu and sweeter are the people)
Mr.Chief Minister,you will have a far more breathing time in Jammu than Valley. The perpetual turmoil in Valley since March constraints you to act ambilevent politically and macavelian in governance. You and your party tends to lean more towards appeasing the radicalised Kashmir milieu than consolidation of Kashmiriyat.
Mr. Chief Minister, BJP has entered in alliance with PDP primarily because of your patriotic credentials and for promoting the intra-regional unity and balance of power. The contradictions within the coalition Government and the PDP surfaced viciously The Governance suffered, the militancy & radicalised narrative took the central stage, the economics and developmental agenda went in disarray. The agenda of governance by PDP-BP Coalition Government was formulated for the welfare of the people of state. At the time of the swearing in ceremony of the Government, the galaxy of tall BJP leaders and the PM Modi flew in to greet and welcome you as Chief Minister, and your team.  But, unfortunately, this bonhomie of swearing in evaporated immediately. Your political incongruity and the cardinal mistake of thanking Pakistan and separatist elements for victory in elections earned you a flack & discreet reprimand from Delhi.
Unfortunately, the misunderstanding between the PDP and BJP led to a serious war of words and it delayed the announcement of a liberal financial package by the Prime Minister for almost six months.  Consequently, the political affairs of the State went into volatility and the economic development agenda received a colossal set back.
Mr.Chief Minister you owe a special gratitude to people of Jammu for the reason that RS Pura people elected you in 1985, to the assembly, as CM in waiting in the event GM Shah Govt. would fall. Kashmir Valley elected you only in 2002 that too when you first became the Chief Minister. The majority of Jammu MLAs in the Congress Legislature Party played vital part to make you Chief Minister in 2002. Even now the BJP Legislature Party having its members from Jammu province only is your support structure as Chief Minister. I always salute people of Jammu for being supportive of Patriotic leadership of Valley and for welcoming with open arms the Kashmiri Pandits who were hounded out and exiled from the valley, into the socio-cultural and economic milieu of Jammu. I personally am proud of Jammuites because I am the product of Law faculty of Jammu University along with the designate Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur, who has brought great pride to us all and legal fraternity of the Country.
A volatile atmospheric has set in the State, during and after the recent Assembly session on a very frivolous controversy called the ‘beef controversy’.  The whole political discourse of the State has been whipped up by the radical elements.  The undemocratic and unruly scenes in the Assembly, the provocation of hosting a beef party in MLA Hostel by an independent MLA and its subsequent fall out of the burning of a young Kashmiri trucker in Udhampur area of Jammu region has created an alarming situation.
The 2014 elections in J&K had brought in hope and aspiration in the people, and particularly the youth of Kashmir valley – that they would benefit from the economic development and progress promised by BJP and Prime Minister Modi to the aspiring young India.  The youth in Kashmir got inspired and joined the mainstream agenda by a larger participation in the elections.  People decided to give peace and positive economic development agenda a priority and through their large participation in the elections, defeated all the incumbent ministers and the previous government.  Such was the fervour of hope and positive participation of the youth, in particular.
On November 07, Prime Minister Modi has fulfilled his promise and announced the financial package of Rs.80,000 crores to the State.  While announcing the said package, he flagged a very serious political issue of mainstreaming the polity of valley and empowerment of  the  youth and other aspiring sections of the society through the doctrine of : “Sab ka Saath ; Sab Ka Vikas” and on 9th November, he has added one more word to it i.e. “Sab ka Nyay”.  PM Modi urged the people to look forward for India as their own country and he said that the coffers of India would be always open and also the hearts and minds of the people of India for Kashmiris.  The country is looking towards the people as their own and the country will always deal with Kashmir and its people by the philosophy of, “insaniyat, jhamhooriyat and kashmiriyat”.
Mr. Chief Minister, you have staked the legitimacy of your Government on securing the liberal financial package from centre to construct the flood devastated public and private infrastructure.  Your plans to facilitate dialogue with separatist has been objected to by BJP hence scuttled and you have to endure the stoking of communal tensions and radicalised political narrative. The focus has now shifted on the effective implementation of development process which people have voted for. PM Modi has also underlined mainstreaming of Kashmir through a positive ideological movement and a people-centric economic development into the political and economic trajectory of the country.
Mr. Chief Minister, as I have said that Jammu is always peaceful and its people are sweet, therefore, you will have ample peaceful time to introspect, intereact and plan out the priorities in the best interest of the people of all the three regions for the economic development.  You may also have to give a holiday to the political ambivalence and the rhetoric.  But it is very necessary for you, Sir, to built up an ideological offensive through all the means available to counter the negative and radicalised political narrative. With the financial resources available in the Government, a bliz creig propaganda for upholding the plural ethos and constitutional democracy as a way of politics in the State has to be launched on priority.
Mr. Chief Minister, as a conscencious citizen, I would urge you to work hard and sensitize Government machinery towards creation of  an atmospheric which is assuring as secured for facilitating the dignified return of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits community back in the valley.  Without the Kashmiri Pandits, plurual ethos of Kashmir,of which PM Modi made emphasis, would always be incomplete and the peace and economic development may elude until they are back in their homeland.  Prime Minister Modi has full faith in you and your Government for facilitating the return of KPs.  This community is willing to go extra mile with you if you take it as a top priority in your political and economic welfare agenda.  The rootlessness of this community is always a trauma and, therefore, the community as a whole is longing to return back to their roots and homeland.
It was expected, after the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition Government, that it would follow a policy of containment, to limit and scale down the violence and open a peace process with inclusive political discourse and also bring in the economic prosperity through uniform and sustained development and open up avenues of employment for the youth.  The Government rose to the power behind these expectations of the people.
The revival of militant activity in the state is a grim reminder to all concerned that the militant outfits are still present and active to strike anytime and anywhere.  Though the public support to militancy has considerably reduced but it has not disappeared.  The bold attacks on army, paramilitary forces and the frequent incidents of infiltration from across the border are on the rise.  Civilian casualties and the highly militarized border clash between India and Pakistan are also on the rise.  The phenomenon of terror, panic and disinformation is back in the valley.  Security scenario, both inwardly and on the border is not very assuring.  Darker clouds of uncertainty are on the horizon.
Pakistan is at the root of destabilizing the mainstream dispensation. She always describes Kashmir as an unfinished agenda of partition and has launched a proxy terrorist war in the State by unleashing death & destruction since 1990. The killings of innocent people is on the rise and people’s sympathy towards the slain militants is disappointing.
Mr. Chief Minister, in today’s context the Jammu province and its people have large importance in the body politic of the J&K State.  Since 2002, the Legislators from Jammu Province have become the support structure of any Government.    Jammu has produced people of eminence not only in politics but in the country’s most powerful judiciary.  These days, the leader of the opposition party in the Rajya Sabha is from Jammu, a Union Minster of State is in-charge of PMO and also of the premier investigating agency in the country.    The illustrious son of Jammu and a most respected and competent Judge of the Supreme Court is a designate Chief Justice of India, likely to be sworn in in December 2015.  Kashmir may be most important in the affairs of politics and globally well-known because of an imbroglio.  Jammu has in its own stride and through its own competence assumed great importance as stated above.  Mr. Chief Minister, you as a wise and astute politician have the support of people of Jammu as well, involving them at all levels of governance and building up of a positive secular political narration as a movement would be much easier for you as a leader of the Government.  Therefore, the smart and inclusive governance is, and should be, your only priority.
(The author is  Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India & Chairman, Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)


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