Changing BJP mindset on J&K major achievement: Mufti

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Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said today that his biggest achievement has been to make a national party and that too a right wing organization like BJP to understand the idea of maintaining special status of Jammu and Kashmir and need to preserve it with an assurance that no Constitutional provision of the State will be touched.
He made these observations while addressing senior party leaders including Ministers, legislators and office bearers at day long party meeting at Banquet Hall, Srinagar, which had been called to review party’s preparations for upcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Panchayat elections.
As usual, two PDP Lok Sabha members Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hamid Karra were conspicuous by their absence in the meeting.
Mufti Sayeed told the senior party leaders that Municipal elections will be held in March-April and Panchayat polls in May-June. However, he said, a final decision will be taken by the Election Department depending on their preparations like electoral rolls etc and taking various other factors into considerations.
Party insiders said there were enough indications that the elections could be held on the ‘party basis’ as this will provide an opportunity to the two coalition partners-PDP and BJP to test their strength in their respective areas of hold as the Government would have completed one year tenure by the time the elections will be held.
The PDP-BJP Government will complete one year on March 1, 2016.
Though the coalition partners were yet to hold talks on contesting Municipal and Panchayat elections, there were indications that the two parties could opt for Leh like tacit understanding in the elections and then come together after the elections to gain control of civic bodies.
BJP had, for the first time, won two-third majority in the elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh.
The two parties would hold parleys when the elections are formally announced.
However, Mufti Sayeed made it clear to the party cadre that victory or defeat in the elections was immaterial and what matters is that the institutions must be in place.
“We must have elected Municipalities and Panchayats followed by Block Development Councils (BDCs) and District Planning and Development Boards (DPDBs). The win or loss doesn’t matter,” he said as all party leaders praised Mufti Sayeed for holding the ULB elections. They said it was the Mufti, who had held the ULB elections in 2005 after 26 years and once again it is he who is holding the elections after more than 10 years.
The Chief Minister pointed out that the State Government will access a large pool of Central funds after holding elections to the ULBs and Panchayats.
Mufti announced constitution of Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party which will be entrusted with the job of sustaining trust and confidence of the people that the PDP enjoys. He assured people of transparent and efficient administration.
Strongly appreciating the BJP leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mufti Sayeed, in his address to party leaders, said it was for the first time that a right wing national party has realized the need to preserve special status of the State.
“They (the BJP leadership) have categorically asserted that they will not touch any Constitutional provision of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, they have guaranteed special status of the State,” he said in a reference to BJP’s decision not to touch Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which grants special status to the State.
Asserting that PDP-BJP alliance was aimed at uniting all three regions of the State-Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, Mufti Sayeed said the BJP might have its own difficulties…we too could have some problems….but we are determined to take the State towards glory jointly through implementation of the `Agenda of Alliance’.
He told the party leaders that the PDP’s decision to align with the BJP was a “well thought’, Mufti said the parties will go ahead with addressing issues of the people of all three regions.
Mufti also touched the criticism from some sections including National Conference and separatists over the implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the State
Describing implementation of NFSA as major achievement of the coalition Government that previous NC-Congress Government failed to do, the Chief Minister, however, said the Government will address the concerns expressed by mainstream parties and separatists on some discrepancies in the Act and will welcome their suggestions. However, he made it clear that the people will get ration under NFSA as per 2011 census.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also hailed working of the BJP Ministers in the coalition Government.
“This is the best ever Council of Ministry in the State. The BJP Ministers are working with full dedication and devotion under the command of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed,” she said, adding the BJP has been upholding the `coalition dharma’.
Party leaders said Mufti Sayeed individually reviewed working of each and every Minister of the PDP and issues directions to some of them on further improvement.
They added that some of the party leaders criticized the Ministers for not addressing their issues and instead accommodating the opposition. The Chief Minister directed the Ministers that they should also address concerns of the party leaders apart from the oppositions.
A PDP handout said:- Describing resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan as a gigantic step forward, Chief Minister and PDP Patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, called for a long-term strategic partnership between the two neighbouring countries so that the people bear fruit of peace and tranquillity in the region.
Member Parliament and PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, co-chaired the nearly four-hour-long brainstorming session, which was called to obtain firsthand feedback on the functioning of the Government.
All Ministers, Legislators, senior leaders, contesting candidates, office-bearers from the entire state, District Presidents and General Secretaries of the party attended the meeting.
Speaking at the end, Mufti Sayeed said he had called the meeting to deliberate and discuss various issues and opinions face-to-face and to devise a strategy to strengthen the party. He said it was important to obtain feedback to make a reality check vis-a-vis performance of the government.
Welcoming the breakthrough on holding of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue between India and Pakistan, the PDP patron hoped both the countries will clear the decks for carrying forward the process of reconciliation. “There is a paradigm shift in New Delhi’s policy towards Islamabad. Now that both the countries have shown great maturity to re-engage, it has generated hope and expectation among the people of Jammu & Kashmir, who have for long yearned for peace and stability in the region,” he said, while invoking his slogan of Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se Baat Banegi Boli Se.
Referring to some of the milestones achieved on Indo-Pak front during his earlier tenure as Chief Minister in 2002, Mufti Sayeed said people of J&K are direct beneficiaries of friendly and peaceful relations between the two neighbours. “I have always maintained that dialogue is an evolutionary process in which results are not achieved in a single day,” he added.
Reiterating that he has no lust for power, Mufti Sayeed said he chose to create a platform (PDP) for articulating the aspirations of the people of his State. He credited former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for restoring the trust of the people in the democratic institutions by holding free and fair elections in 2002 which saw PDP emerge as a powerful alternative on the political stage of the State. “People joined PDP because they saw a ray of hope in the party. My Government will ensure that no region harbours any feeling of deprivation or discrimination,” he stated.
Highlighting his immediate concerns on the economic front, Mufti Sayeed passed instructions for quick disbursement of relief, particularly among those victims who lost their homes in the 2014 floods. He said with the funds’ package announced by the Centre, the state is well on course to witness major strides on the development front.
The Chief Minister praised his party cadres for supporting him through thick and thin and reposing faith in his leadership. “Whatever I am today is because of my party workers,” he stated.
Asserting her commitment to achieve party’s goals on political and development fronts, Mehbooba Mufti, in her address termed PDP’s stand on all issues as clear and unambiguous. She said the recent thaw in relations between India and Pakistan, broadening of the cross-LoC trade and travel and gelling of the three regions of the State together were positive outcomes of the concerted efforts of PDP to bring permanent stability in the region.
Referring to the economic package announced by the Centre for J&K, the PDP president said the real challenge before the Government lay in spending the funds judiciously so that its benefits percolate to the people at the ground level. She said the government has done an excellent job in announcing new schemes like Ladli Beti and AASRA, which can bring huge relief and change the destiny of especially weaker sections of the society.
Mehbooba also underscored the need to focus on the component of employment entrenched in several social sector schemes so that the rich pool of talented human resource is gainfully employed. She also called for taking party workers on board in making people aware about the pro-people initiatives taken by the Government. “The Ministers should meet delegations headed by District Presidents once a month so that their genuine concerns are addressed in a time-bound manner,” she advised.
On putting the State firmly towards the path of development, the PDP president cited several instances where the Union Government has extended wholehearted support in core sectors linked to connectivity, healthcare, education and rural development. She also referred to her meetings with several Union Ministers, who, she said genuinely want to extend full cooperation to the State Government.
Earlier, PDP general secretary, Nizam-ud-din Bhat, in his brief introductory remarks, spoke on various issues of importance and highlighted other matters which are under the consideration of the party.
The issues raised by the members included strengthening of power distribution system, giving wide publicity to new Government schemes and creating job opportunities for  unemployed educated youth.
Those who spoke on the occasion included senior party leaders including Rafi Ahmad Mir, Peer Mansoor, Ch. Qamar Din, Saif-ud-din Bhat, Firdous Tak, Zaffar Manhas, Surinder Chaudhary, besides Shamim Dar, Raja Aijaz Ali, Mehboob Iqbal and Rafiq Ahmad Khan.

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