February 2016 News

Will Absence Of JK Specific Measures In Budget Strain PDP-BJP Relation?

29 February 2016
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali and Umar Maqbool

Srinagar: At a time when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wants New Delhi to initiate J&K-specific CBMs ahead of re-stitching its alliance with BJP, omission of J&K from the Union budget could further strain the relation between the two parties. In the run up to the Union budget, the PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti had asked Government of India to take initiatives, both on political and economic fronts, to create an atmosphere for ending political uncertainty in J&K. But contrary to the expectations that the budget may set the tone to renew efforts for the Government formation, the Union Finance Minister ArunJaitley didn't offer anything on the economic front for the resource crunch state. 'The budget was not only the opportunity for the BJP to reach out to its ally (PDP), it would have also send message that Prime Minister NarendraModi is concerned about the happenings in the State,' said a known political observer. This was in fact for the first time in recent years and after BJP was voted to power in 2014, that the budget lacked J&K-specific announcement. In 2014-15 budget, Government of India had announced Rs 1000 crore for IIT Jammu while Rs 50 crore were set aside for Pashmina Promotion Program and for development of crafts in Kashmir. In 2015-16 budget Jaitley had announced setting up of an AIIMS and IIM in the State. Noted economist, Prof Nissar Ali said there were expectations that New Delhi would announce certain economic measures to give flip to state economy on longer terms apart from stepping in to end the present political stalemate. 'We were expecting center to announce ways and means for helping state to buy at least one power project from NHPC or announce a financial package to help state augment its power generation capacity. The center could have chipped in with support to help the state clear the power liability of more than Rs 7000 crore,' said Prof Ali. 'The fact that J&K is missing from the union budget is very disappointing. He said certain other measure like augmentation of tourism programs in the Valley and steps for boosting commercial agricultural programs like saffron and apple production haven't also found any mention in the budget. Apart from return of NHPC-owned power projects to J&K, inclusion of Jammu and Srinagar cities in the list of smart cities and liberal funding to flood hit state were some of the key issues that were expected to be find a mention in the budget. 'There must be a sense of disappoint within the PDP as well as we didn't find any mention of J&K in the budget,' said Prof Ali. The PDP reacted cautiously to the absence of any J&K specific measure in the Budget. Senior PDP leader NaemAkther said the issues concerning J&K were something that can't be addressed in one budget. 'It is the question of the attitude and approach problems of J&K,' said Akther. 'The (economic) issues raised by the PDP are beyond the framework of a budget. These issues concern the overall situation of the state,' he added.