Congress in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday demanded the ruling PDP-BJP coalition government to call an all party meeting at the earliest to discuss the threadbare issue of granting regional autonomy to all the three regions of the state, saying that there will not be any confrontation on the issue as all major political parties in the state were on the same page over it.
Significantly, the demand came a day after state BJP spokesperson Prof Virender Gupta asked senior vice president of Pradesh Congress Committee and former minister Sham Lal Sharma to elaborate the structure of regional councils advocated by him for all the three regions of the state.
In a press statement in Jammu, Sharma said that grant of regional autonomy had already been incorporated by Congress Party in it’s election manifesto of 2008 and 2014 assembly elections and moreover it has also supported delimitation of assembly constituencies. The regional autonomy should be granted with complete political, administrative and financial powers, he added.
Pointing out that Jammu region has always faced discrimination irrespective of the political parties ruled the state, he asked the ruling BJP to clear its stand on granting regional autonomy to all the three regions of the state. Till date, the Saffron Party hasn’t cleared its stand on this issue as they don’t have any mechanism to end discrimination being faced by the people of Jammu particularly during the present BJP PDP government, he added.
Further reminding the BJP that it had in the past vehemently opposed the idea of regional autonomy and not the Congress party, Sharma said that BJP and its sister organisations formed Jammu State Morcha during 2002 for having a separate Jammu state and subsequently they abandoned it for the reason best known to the party.Since 2002 till date BJP hasn’t explicit its stand on regional autonomy because they have no concept of the same, he added.
He further said that BJP has never demanded Regional Autonomy to all three regions nor it is included in their party manifesto for the years 2008 & 2014 assembly elections. So,when it is not included in their party manifesto how the BJP is claiming that they had demanded Regional Autonomy in past also? he asked. He said that granting regional autonomy would help in empowering all regions and of the State.
Highlighting the discrimination meted to the people of Jammu region Sham Lal said that the people of Jammu region suffered in all walks of life- in development activities, in services and in allocation of funds. He said all the political parties in the State are advocating for regional autonomy in order to ensure equitable development and political empowerment in all the regions. There is anger among the people of Jammu region due to discrimination against them.
Sharma asked BJP that since they are in Power both at the Centre and in the state, it will not be any problem for them in granting regional autonomy to all three regions. It has been often seen that as and when there is disturbance in Kashmir valley, it has always has its impact on the economy of Jammu and Ladakh regions. The regional councils can only address the grievances of the people of the region, Sharma added.