J&K parties ready with outline of manifestos
10 August 2002
The Times of India
DWARIKA PRASAD SHARMA
JAMMU: The major political parties in the fray in the forthcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections have already prepared the broad contours of their manifestos. The main issue the ruling National Conference (NC) is projecting is, predictably, greater autonomy for the state. What is new compared to the 1996 manifesto is that it can now tell the people that the Central government, which had rejected out of hand the autonomy resolution of the state assembly pushed through by the NC government, had been forced to appoint a committee to discuss the issue with representative of the state government. The BJP and the Congress, the other two major parties in the race, are both opposing the autonomy demand in their manifestos. These parties, with varying emphasis and terminology, favour statutory regional councils that would give equitable political and financial powers to all three regions of the state. The BJP says that it is opposed to any measure that would weaken the integration of the state with the Union. The Congress stand is that the 1975 Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord succeeded the previous arrangements and is relevant even now.