Mehbooba Mufti, unlock Kashmir’s wealth

Mehbooba Mufti, unlock Kashmir’s wealth

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 26 March, 2016
It was Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who took the bold step of allying with the BJP to come to power in Jammu & Kashmir. The shrewd politician understood that such an alliance would be less problematic for him and the PDP than tying up with the National Conference and the Congress Party to form what would have been an anti-BJP coalition in the state. Such a government would have been shaky, not least because the National Conference was an ally of the BJP in the past and would be prepared to become so in the future, if the terms were right, predominant among them presumably being that a member of the Abdullah family—whether father Farooq or son Omar—would be the Chief Minister of a state that the family has dominated across the decades. Given that any administration in Srinagar would need the help of the Central authorities to balance the budget and provide for schemes, and that the Congress Party led by Rahul Gandhi has clearly embarked on an all-out war against the Narendra Modi government, this chasm between the economic compulsions of the state and the political compulsions of the Congress Party would soon have led to major disagreements between the Congress high command (now increasingly comprising Rahul Gandhi and his supporters) and the Mufti family, despite the fact that on several issues, including relations with Pakistan, the PDP is far closer to the Congress Party than it is to the BJP. Indeed, there is no daylight between the stand on Pakistan of prominent Congress leaders such as Mani Shankar Aiyar and that of Mehbooba Mufti, who has inherited the leadership of the party founded by her father. 
For two months and counting, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been ruled by the long-serving Governor, N.N. Vohra, who has succeeded in gaining the trust of every Prime Minister from the time of Inder Kumar Gujral. This has been the consequence of the refusal by Mehbooba Mufti to form a majority government with the coalition partner selected by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, apparently in order to force the BJP to make concessions on a variety of issues. These include the approach of the winner of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to Pakistan, as well as the provision of a more than generous amount of Central assistance to the state. However, to dilute the stand of the BJP towards Pakistan or to shower a single under-populated state with largesse taken from taxpayers across India would neither be good economics or good politics, and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has done well in resisting calls to go beyond the understanding reached between his party and the PDP when they formed the government after the last Assembly polls. It would be best for PDP’s new supremo Mehbooba Mufti to accept this and instead of incessantly seeking more assistance from the Centre, pay attention to ways in which her own state can unlock its immense potential. Citizens from Jammu & Kashmir are among the most talented and versatile in India, and the state has the potential to rival Karnataka and Haryana as an Information Technology hub. Another sector with immense potential is tourism, and what is needed is to ensure that more airfields get built in the state, so that tourists, both domestic and international, can easily visit some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Once she finally takes over as Chief Minister, it is such matters that ought to receive the attention of Mehbooba Mufti.

There are 3 Comments

An accurate appreciation of the situation and happenings in J&K. Wish the other elements of the media could have given as realistic a picture of the going ons in the valley. Mehbooba's tantrums were of no avail and her bluff has been called off.She should now get on with governance. Hope she avoids the pitfalls of her party's policy of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. Governing the state is becoming more difficult by the day.

Glad that this column is mentioning to unlock the potential of the state through tourism and IT industry and mentioning to have more airfields. I belong to J&K and have been working in Delhi since the last decade. I have also travelled around the world and must say that the state needs to improve the existing airports. Jammu airport is pathetic in terms of infrastructure and accessibility. It is a defense airport converted to commercial and in the busy market area.

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