BJP Relents On Article 370, PDP Goes Soft On AFSPA In CMP

1 March 2015
Rising Kashmir

Jammu: Climbing down from known positions on critical issue, the PDP-BJP government Sunday promised to maintain status quo on Article 370 and examine the need for denotifying 'disturbed areas' in the State to enable Government of India (GoI) to take a final view on controversial Armed Forces Special Power's Act (AFSPA). The CMP of the two parties, 'Agenda of the Alliance' released by the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed after the swearing-in ceremony, also pledged to pursue Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to enhance people-to- people contact on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to encourage travel and trade with Pak administered Kashmir (PaK). 'While recognising the different positions and appreciating the perceptions BJP and PDP have on the constitutional status of J&K, considering the political and legislative realities, the present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K, including the special status in the Constitution of India,' the 16-page document said. The BJP has for long been demanding the scrapping of Article 370, which provides Special status to the state. On AFSPA, it says while both the parties have historically held a different view on the AFSPA and need for it in the state at present, the coalition government said it will examine the need for denotifying the 'disturbed areas' in the state. 'This, as a consequence, would enable the Union government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas,' states the CMP. While addressing a press conference, Mufti had said he was not at all disappointed on the issue, as no agreement was reached on scrapping of AFSPA. 'I am, as the Chief Minister, the Chairman of United Command. I will make them (Army) accountable. Mujhe maloom hai kaise mahaul ko banana hai (I know how to create the situation),' he said. The CMP also said that the purpose of this alliance is to form a coalition government that will be empowered to catalyse reconciliation and confidence building within and across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir thereby ensuring peace in the state. It would be pursued by taking CBMs such as enhancing people-to-people contact on both the sides of LoC encouraging civil society exchanges taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the LoC to next level and opening new routes across three regions enhancing connectivity. CMP states that the earlier NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee had initiated a dialogue process with all political groups including Hurriyat Conference in the spirit of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamuriyat. Without referring to the resolution of Kashmir issue and talks with separatists, it said, 'following the same principles the coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustain and meaningful dialogue with all internal stake holders which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilection.' 'The dialogue will seek to built a broad based consensus on resolution of all the outstanding issues of Jammu and Kashmir,' it said in an obvious reference to Kashmir issue. The coalition government's 'Agenda of the Alliance' also asserted both the parties would seek national reconciliation on Jammu and Kashmir and facilitate a meaningful dialogue to seek resolution of all outstanding issues in the state. 'PDP and BJP have entered into the governance alliance based on the agreement and agenda which is an effort towards seeking national reconciliation on Jammu and Kashmir,' it said. Flanked by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and Minister Haseeb Drabu, Mufti released the 16-page document on the agenda of the alliance government and guiding frame work for governance of the coalition government for the next six years. Referring to talks with Pakistan, CMP states that the Union government has recently initiated several steps to normalise relationship with Pakistan. 'The coalition government will seek to support and strengthen the approach and initiatives taken by the government to create a reconciliatory environment and built stakes for all in the peace and development within the sub-continent,' it said. The document said situation in the state has improved vastly and to build greater public confidence in its sustainability. People of the state must be able to get the peace and normalcy dividend, the document said. In this context, the coalition government will thoroughly review the security situation in the state with a view to examine the need and desirability of all the special laws being applied to the state in view of the situation which is improving. Speaking about the government's 'Social and humanitarian initiatives', it said protecting and fostering ethnic and religious diversity by ensuring the return of Kashmiri Pandits with dignity based on their rights as state subjects and reintegrating as well as absorbing them in the Kashmiri milieu. 'This will, in turn, create an enabling environment for all round economic development of the state and prosperity of the people', it said, adding reintegration will be a process that will start within the state as well as the civil society, by taking the community into confidence. 'Reintegration will be a process that will start within the state as well as the civil society, by taking the community into confidence,' it said. Referring to vacation of buildings and places from security forces, the government's Agenda said that all the lands other than those given to the security forces on the basis of lease, licenses and acquisition under the provision of the Land Acquisition Act shall be returned to the rightful legal owners, except in a situation where retaining the lands is absolutely imperative in view of a specific security requirement. In any case, monetary remuneration, be it in the form of rents or compensation should be made fairly at market rates, it said. On reclaiming of power projects from NHPC, CMP states that coalition government will explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to J&K as suggested by the Rangarajan Committee report. 'The government will also secure a share in the profits of NHPC emanating from J&K waters to the state government and revise all royalty agreements,' it further states adding that a dedicated coal mine in Madhya Pradesh be allotted to J&K with coal reserves of not less than 150 MMT for setting up a pit head thermal plant with equity support from Government of India It also favoured ensuring J&K a share in one of the six Ultra Mega Thermal Power Projects On governance reforms it said the state government will be transformed into a Smart Government which will be proactive, transparent and accountable. 'It will be reformed and redesigned to be an enabler for business and a strategic partner for long term private sector growth. It shall be the mission of the coalition government to be the most ethical state in the country from the present day position of being the most corrupt state,' it said. For this, new governance systems shall be introduced with national support and international expertise to provide honest, effective inclusive governance and service delivery. The governance framework envisaged will include institutional capacity building and people-public-private partnership. This will enable the state to seek national and international financing for its developmental plan and projects for foreign investments in sectors like power, infrastructure, education, agriculture, horticulture, tourism and medical services. 'Simplify doing business in the state by reducing regulatory complexities and costs, easing bureaucratic barriers and simplifying registration processes and clearances. This will also being down the size, scale and spread of corruption in the state significantly,' the document said. The overall economic policy will align the economic structure of J&K with its own resources, skills and society. The economic policy will not be formulated for government's own activities but for private businesses and enterprises. It will be ensured that powers and decentralisation of decision making is in practice devolved to three-tier Panchayats, Municipalities and Corporations. The third-tier of governance will be empowered to discharge their statutory functions effectively and efficiently by giving them functional roles, fiscal responsibilities. 'To ensure genuine autonomy of institutions of probity, which include: State Accountability Commission, Vigilance Commission, which will be re-designated as Transparency Commission, and an organisation which deals with the Right to Information Act,' it said.