Jammu and Kashmir: How PDP-BJP’s agenda of alliance remained on paper

The alliance broke up mid-way through the elected term, as the BJP withdrew support to the PDP, on June 19 this year, following which Mehbooba Mufti resigned as Chief Minister.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Srinagar | Updated: August 29, 2018 6:59:50 am
narendra modi, pm modi, mehbooba mufti, bjp pdp alliance, bjp pdp break up, pm development package, modi j&k, jammu development projects, amit shah, kashmir news Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Mehbooba Mufti. (PTI/File)

On November 5, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a mega financial package for Jammu and Kashmir from the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar. Addressing the gathering, he said, “…Dilli ka khazana hee nahi, dil bhi aap ke liye hazir hai (Not just the treasury, even Delhi’s heart beats for you).” While the Rs 80,000-plus crore Prime Minister’s Development Package reflected Modi’s readiness to open the purse strings for the state, the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) drafted by the BJP and the PDP was seen as a manifestation of his government’s desire to start a new chapter in J&K.

A state government report on the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) shows that key agenda items which the local coalition partner PDP believed would go a long way in healing wounds of Kashmiris, such as the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), debt waivers, vacation of land ‘occupied’ by security forces, or transferring Central government stake in hydro power projects to the state, have seen slow progress in the two years till December-end.

READ | Three years later, big projects in Prime Minister’s J&K development plan are stuck

The ‘Agenda of Alliance’ called for creating “an environment of peace, certainty and stability” and facilitating “sustained and meaningful dialogue” with “political groups irrespective of their ideological views”, including the Hurriyat Conference. These key points, as per the previous state government’s own report, have seen little to no development since the agenda was drafted.

The report is a collection of responses from 26 government departments on 66 action points from the AoA, until the end of December 2017. Of the 66 points highlighted, many including the review of the implementation of AFSPA, transfer of power projects to J&K and a special employment package, remain at the preliminary review stages.

READ | Jammu leads the way in J&K development, by fund value & work done

With regard to examining the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas’, a response from the Department of Home notes that after a meeting at the unified headquarters on September 29, 2010, sanction was accorded to the constitution of two Committees, one each for Kashmir and Jammu provinces, to look into the areas where from the AFSPA could be withdrawn. It, however, concludes stating, “The need and desirability of revocation of the AFSPA in various areas of the state would require critical review of the security situation and other relevant factors.”

With regard to a review of the Public Safety Act, the home department states that the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978, has been in force in the state prior to eruption of militancy. “The Act covers ‘Public Order’, ‘Smuggling of Timber’ etc besides activities prejudicial to the security of the state” adding quickly that the Act has “sufficient inbuilt safeguards.”

To address “the real source of J&K’s fiscal problems”, the AoA sought to work with the Union government to explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to the state as suggested by the Rangarajan Committee Report. The Power Development Department, in its response states that, “The J&K State Power Development Corporation was authorised to work out the present cost of these projects on the basis of internationally accepted norms to form a basis for further negotiations with NHPC/GoI. Despite non-cooperation from NHPC, an independent consultant was hired by JKSPDC for the purpose and based on these documents the consultant has calculated the present cost of Salal, Uri-I, Dulhasti, Uri-II, Sewa-II, Nimo Bazgo and Chutak HEPs. The report of the consultant is under examination in the J&KSPDC.”

Read | Three years later, big projects in Prime Minister’s J&K development plan are stuck

Another proposal for one time financial package to the 5,764 West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) was forwarded to the Government of India, however, Centre released a package of Rs 2,000 crore for displaced families from PoK and Chhamb only at Rs 5.5 lakh per family under Prime MInister’s Development Package. “The WPRs have not been considered in the said package. Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) benefits, voting rights and state jobs are not available to WPRs.”

PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir told The Indian Express, “We didn’t see much has been done in the direction of the implementation of the agenda document. There were factors including the situation in the state and then insufficient funds for implementation of projects. The BJP may have parted ways now but they were part of this till the government fell. So, they are as responsible for the lack of the implementation on the AoA as we may be.”

However, PDP sources said the report from various departments does not mention the appointment of interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, amnesty to youth in cases of stone pelting, the Ramzan ceasefire, and the “open ended” offer for talks extended by the Union Home Minister; all initiatives that the party considers stepping stones leading to the implementation of the agenda. A committee was also set up for the monitoring of the implementation of the agenda, headed by former Deputy CM Nirmal Singh.

Meanwhile, the state’s demand for an ‘Industrial Incentive Package’ on the pattern of North-East and a project for to address the housing shortage in Jammu and Srinagar and also making these cities slum free, taken up under PMAY (Housing for All Mission); the construction of Chattapani-Zaznar tunnel on Mughal Road among others, are all awaiting approval from the Government of India.

Vacation of land “occupied by the security forces without legal basis” was also noted in the Agenda of Alliance between the two parties. The report states that of the 3136 establishments/premises under the occupation of security forces – including 187 Schools, 40 Hospitals, 534 government buildings, 82 hotels, 2,236 private buildings, eight cinema halls, and 49 industrial units – up until August 2016 all schools, 305 other government buildings, 96 private buildings, 37 hotels, 31 industrial units and 03 cinema halls “have been vacated and restored for their original use.”

The alliance broke up mid-way through the elected term, as the BJP withdrew support to the PDP, on June 19 this year, following which Mehbooba Mufti resigned as Chief Minister. After the government fell, several PDP leaders had stated that the party’s insistence on the AoA was a key reason in the differences leading to the BJP’s withdrawal from power.

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