PDP-BJP decide to shelve Coordination Committee

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 3: In a significant political decision, the PDP-BJP, who are running the coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir, have decided not to constitute the Coordination Committee of the two parties this time, which had been set up during previous regime of the two parties headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Prior to that, the NC-Congress coalition Government also had a Coordination Committee.
Insiders within the two Alliance partners confirmed to the Excelsior that they were not going to have the Coordination Committee of PDP-BJP this time on the ground that the Cabinet was fully empowered to take decisions in the interests of the State and public welfare. Moreover, they pointed out, the Coordination Committee only had to recommend the decisions to the Cabinet, which the PDP and BJP leaders can do otherwise also.
The PDP-BJP Coordination was headed by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and had total of 10 members including five Parliament Members from J&K (three each of PDP and BJP) and four Cabinet Ministers (two each from both the parties).
Noting that four Cabinet Ministers in the previous Coordination Committee, who were again part of the coalition Government headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, can make any kind of recommendations in the Cabinet meeting, insiders said similarly all rema-ining Members of Parliament (now five) as Mehbooba, the Anantnag MP, has become the Chief Minister, can make any kind of recommendations to the Government for consideration.
The previous Coordination Committee headed by BJP veteran and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh comprised Mehbooba Mufti (then in her capacity as the PDP president and Lok Sabha member from Anantnag), Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hamid Qarra, the two other Lok Sabha members of the PDP, Works Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri and Education Minister Naeem Akhter, all from PDP, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Shamsher Singh Manhas and Thupstan Chhewang (all Members of Parliament) and Choudhary Lal Singh, Forest Minister, all BJP.
Both parties had five members each in 10 members Coordination Committee.
Insiders pointed out that the Government was of the view that Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by the Cabinet in its first meeting held on March 11 on the implementation of Agenda of Alliance will serve the purpose of Coordination Committee. The GoM is headed by Dr Nirmal Singh and comprised four Ministers —two each from PDP and BJP including Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga from BJP, Works Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri and Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu from PDP.
The GoM has been mandated to take steps for implementation of ‘Agenda of Alliance’ (AoA) signed between PDP and BJP before formation of their first ever coalition Government in the State on March 1, 2015. The two parties were of the view that the GoM was sufficient to work in place of the Coordination Committee.
According to insiders, the senior leaders of both PDP and BJP were of the view that the issues taken up in the Coordination Committee had to be referred to the Cabinet again for taking decisions and it would be better if the same issues are directly referred to the Cabinet and decisions taken on them.
“It was in this context that the two parties agreed not to have the Coordination Committee this time,’’ they said, pointing out that two of the previous Coordination Committee members were the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, rest eight were MPs and Cabinet Ministers.
While the Minister can directly send their agenda to the Cabinet, the MPs were also empowered to make any kind of recommendations to the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and the Cabinet Ministers for taking final call in the Cabinet, they said.
Further, they pointed out, all Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers represent the District Development Boards (DDBs) of the districts they represent as MPs and MLAs and can keep their issues of development and others in the Board meetings also.
The previous Coordination Committee during Mufti Mohammad Sayeed regime was constituted within few days of the Government formation on March 1, 2015 and it met nearly half a dozen times before it ceased to exist along with the Government due to sudden death of Mufti Sayeed.
The National Conference-Congress regime headed by Omar Abdullah from 2009 to 2014 also had the Coordination Committee headed by then PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz.
The Government had mandated Nirmal Singh headed GoM to take up all major points in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’, which formed basis for running the PDP-BJP coalition Government to formalize all the issues and suggest measures for their speedy implementation.
“While some of the issues have to be implemented by the State Government, several other points pertained to the Central Government. The GoM will liaison between Centre and State Governments ,” sources said.
Sources said there were various issues in the ‘Agenda’ like development of tourism, infrastructure etc, which will be taken up on fast track. They added that development and governance would be main focus of the GoM, headed by him, which would start working immediately.
There were some issues in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ on which the Central Government has reservations like transfer of power projects to the State. Power Minister Piyush Goel has already made his stand clear that his Ministry was not going to transfer any project to the State, sources said.
However, they added, there were many issues in the ‘Agenda’ pertaining to development, infrastructure building etc on which there was unanimity between PDP and BJP that they would be implemented expeditiously. The Prime Minister’s Re-construction Package also evolved around some of the points in the ‘Agenda’.
Sources said the coalition partners first wanted to implement those points of the ‘Agenda’ on which there was one opinion between both the coalition partners. In the meantime, they would evolve consensus on remaining points.


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