Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today said the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ outlines a comprehensive roadmap for PDP-BJP coalition government and it will be implemented in letter and spirit to address the challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir.
“I am confident that if we succeed in implementing the ‘Agenda of Alliance’, it will take care of most of the problems facing J&K, faced as it is with decades long political uncertainty, economic deprivation, development deficit, unfulfilled aspirations and mounting unemployment,” the Chief said while winding up the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address in the Legislative Council today.
Mehbooba said PDP has entered into an alliance with the BJP to seek in accordance with the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ national reconciliation on the political and economic challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir. She said the purpose of this alliance is to catalyze reconciliation and confidence building within the State and across the Line of Control (LoC) to create an enabling environment for sustainable peace, all round economic development and prosperity of J&K. “I assure this august house that we would continue to pursue implementation of this agenda with unflinching consistency to address the enormous challenges confronting J&K,” she said.
The Chief Minister said Mufti Sahab had a vision that given the decisive mandate enjoyed by Mr Narendra Modi, the Government of India, under his leadership, would take effective and realistic steps to address the political, economic and administrative challenges confronting J&K. “Mufti Sahab’s vision was not only to bring the people of various regions within the state closer to each other, but to bridge the trust deficit between J&K and the rest of the country and that is why he joined hands with BJP to carry through this enterprise of hope,” she said and added it’s not about the BJP and PDP, it is about an inclusive government which will strive towards pulling J&K out of the morass.
“When National Conference entered into an alliance first with BJP and then with Congress, they had no agenda, except distribution of ministries and greed of chair. But we have a clear agenda, the elements of which have been even endorsed by the Congress in the PM’s Working Groups reports formed by then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. We can take out state from its present turmoil if we all join hands to implement this agenda of alliance,” she said.
Ms Mehbooba said the issues like unshackling the potential of the state by opening more points on LoC, banking facilities, strengthening of Article 370, wresting land from the security forces, etc. have been a part of mainstream discourse for decades. “Former RBI Governor, C Rangarajan, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, MK Rasgotra and N C Saxena were part of the Working Groups appointed by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who had agreed on all the political, economic, security and cross-LoC confidence building measures. They unequivocally agreed that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has to go and it will go. We have hope that the leaders at the Centre have understood the ground realities in J&K and they want to improve the situation,” Ms Mufti said.
“Such issues have been raised by all the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, at some point in time, but they have failed in making any forward movement. Your criticism of PDP-BJP coalition government rings hollow given your own past performances. You have done nothing to consolidate the peace efforts initiated between 2002 and 2005 under the leadership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. We are again starting from zero and by raising these issues now, you are trying to vitiate the atmosphere. If we are doing anything good for the state, you should support us,” she told the opposition.
Hitting out at the former NC leaders, Ms Mufti said they bartered the resources of Jammu and Kashmir for power, “When Omar Sahab became the External Affairs Minister, what was his agenda. You joined hands with the BJP and what did you get in return? You gave away our power projects in lieu of power and chair. You should tell this house why you joined hands with them at that time. Show me a document that you had with the BJP that your party will deliver on such and such issue. We had a charter for 2002-2005 government and we have a similar agenda in this government,” Ms Mufti said.
Defending her party’s alliance with the BJP, Ms Mufti said the mandate thrown up by the 2014 Assembly Elections was seen as a historic opportunity by her late father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, to join the culturally distinct Jammu region and Kashmir Valley.
“The Agenda of the Alliance is a big challenge for our government. When Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1947 joined hands with India, it was a tough decision. When Mufti saheb joined politics, there were slogans of Rai Shumari and even the mention of mainstream politics was seen as blasphemy. But my father was impressed by the composite culture of India and its democratic values during his student days in Aligarh. He could see how the poor and marginalized were empowered to chose or dethrone the Prime Minister which impressed him. He was a farsighted person and his decision to join a democratic party was right one,” Ms Mufti said.
She said her late father’s biggest hope was in India’s democracy. “He formed PDP to evolve a strong opposition in Jammu and Kashmir. It was this decision which strengthened the democratic values of our state. But the mandate of 2014 Assembly Elections gave few options. We could have avoided the mandate of Jammu. Congress and NC offered us support and I am thankful for that. But the mandate from Jammu was strong. Could we have overlooked the mandate of people of RS Pura who elected Mufti saheb. We could have done it for the sake of chair but we kept the interest of J&K in mind,” Ms Mufti said.
The Chief Minister said the decision to ally with National Conference and Congress could have proved a disaster for the state, “Such a decision would have repeated the situation of 1987. Syed Ali Geelani saheb and Abdul Gani Lone were part of this assembly but they chose a different path because the mandate of 1987 was dishonored. It was not an election. It was a conspiracy and the repeat of such conspiracy could have pushed the state into chaos. Much blood has been spilled since 1947 in Jammu and Kashmir. We didn’t want to spill more by disrespecting the mandate,” she said.
The Chief Minister said the separatist leadership claimed their political space without any intervention of the government during the 2002-2005 tenure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, “At that time, separatist leaders were jailed but we set them free. I encountered them during election campaigns. We talked to them. Umar Farooq and Bilal Lone spoke with Centre. Militancy went down and ceasefire was implemented. It sparked the hope of a new dawn of peace but the unfortunate events after 2008 turned the tide against the peace efforts,” she said.
Hitting out at the Opposition for accusing the government of implementing the RSS’s agenda on Kashmir, she said such remarks reflect the lack of faith among the Opposition members in their ideology which is deeply secular and plural. “Even Pandits swear by the name of Dastgeer saheb and Rash-Maili saheb. Those shrines are sacred and no one has returned empty handed from them. No power on earth can dilute our secular ethos,” she said.
Reacting to the Opposition’s charges over ‘Cat and Pigeon’ remark’, the Chief Minister said her statement has been distorted by the Opposition and media to project as if every Kashmiri is a militant. “My remarks were distorted. Kashmiri Muslims are fed up with violence. Kashmiri Pandits aren’t afraid of Kashmiri Muslims. They are afraid of those who perpetrated Wandhama Massacre. Who killed Abdul Gani Lone? Who shot Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq? The workers of Congress, PDP, NC and BJP are living with security. Should we not then provide a sense of security to Pandits. We have to make them comfortable. Unless they get confidence to go to their native places without security, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps which will be inclusive with fifty percent reservation for migrants of other faiths. And to link these issues with Article 370 is completely misplaced,” she said.
On the issue of construction of Sainik Colony, the Chief Minister said the first Sainik Colony was built around 1964 in Samba and it was meant for state subjects. “Sheikh Abdullah inaugurated the colony. In March 2011, a meeting of Rajya Sainik Board took place followed by more meetings in 2012. In 2014, the meeting was attended by Omar Abdullah. Every meeting discussed that land should be provided and no final decision was taken. In my tenure also on April 21 a meeting was convened, again call for land, the Divisional Commissioner communicated to the board on May 18 that no suitable land has been identified. How can you say that there is confusion on the issue?” she said.
She said the Centre has already cleared proposal for construction of two AIIMS in J&K which will come up in Samba and Awantipora. The Chief Minister said the New Industrial Policy will be revised to uphold the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. “Regarding the issue of Smart Cities, there is a process which is being followed. Earlier, there was provision for only one city from J&K. After our intervention, both cities have been approved. If they aren’t done, I will sit on opposition benches,” she said.
She said the UPA II circulated the draft of National Food Security Act and the then government under Omar Abdullah consented to the bill in 2011. “In 2015, we implemented the law only after Centre decided to stop ration to state who don’t implement the new law. Backed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme, the NFSA will be implemented in J&K from July 1,” she said.
Charging at the Opposition for belittling the PDP-BJP government’s efforts for women welfare, Ms Mufti said the introduction of special buses for females and women police stations will empower womenfolk. “I have travelled in buses. A girl’s molestation in Handwara resulted in five killings. Thousands will die if the veil is lifted from the problems faced by women in public transport,” she said.
At the beginning of her address on Governor’s address, she thanked the opposition for their support after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and their condolence messages. “When everyone was pointing fingers at me, Omar (Abdullah) saheb understood my situation and supported me and I thank him for that,” she said.
She assured the legislators that the issues regarding their accommodation, security and keeping provisions for including their issues in district and state plans will be addressed with utmost priority, “My father used to say that the real ideas and issues should come out in the Upper House. He used to say that those who have much more to contribute to the society are elected to upper house. I am not happy with the appearance of this house and we will see what the government can do to give it a facelift. Regarding the issue of your security and accommodation, the state has faced many problems after floods. We have ordered new cars and defunct cars are being repaired. I will ensure that all your problems are resolved,” she said.