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PDP for Parliament's special session to redraft Kashmir policy

As representatives of India's only Muslim majority state, the party's representatives will work with India's principal minority to address "their concerns and insecurities", the party said in its manifesto.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Mar 24, 2014, 04.01 PM IST
SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir's principal opposition, the PDP wants effective shifts in India's foreign policy wherever it hurts J&K, creation of Kashmir affairs ministry outside ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and a special session of the parliament on J&K. As representatives of India's only Muslim majority state, the party's representatives will work with India's principal minority to address "their concerns and insecurities", the party said in its manifesto.

Pitted against BJP and an NC-Congress alliance, PDP is contesting all the six seats. From Kashmir's three seats, it has fielded its stalwarts. The party is keen to see state's representatives playing a proactive role and avoid staying as "passive observers" in the parliament. It sees the Parliament as a forum "for representing the Kashmir issue at the national level."

"Our mission in the parliament will be to drive, persuade, and convince all the parties to formalize a basic Kashmir policy; a kind of CMP of all the political parties on J&K," the party said in its manifesto. Terming it an "aspirational agenda", the party sees the Lok Sabha elections "as an opportunity to promote decentralized incentives in a changing political and economic order."

The party links the existing trust deficit between various stakeholders in J&K and in Delhi as the outcome of failure of state parties in "articulating the aspirations, highlighting the grievances and voicing the insecurities of people of J&K" in the parliament. It also links parliament's failure in not debating Kashmir even once in "substantive manner" in last fifty years to the lawmakers from J&K.

Notwithstanding the fact that J&K has only six berths available in a 543-member forum, PDP says lot many things can be done without making power alliances. "PDPs considered view is that the state retains the internal sovereignty despite executing the instrument of accession," the manifesto says. "Based on this premises, it shall be our endeavor to propagate the external as well as the internal aspects of the J&K issue."

The party says the internal and the external dimensions of the Kashmir issue need to be addressed in building a sustainable peace process. "It can not be an isolated strategic initiative linked to a party or a government," the party says. "It has to be an article of faith such that is part of the national thinking."

In the sphere of external affairs, the PDP says it would seek "changes" in the "design of the national foreign policy and the conduct of our diplomacy" where J&K is involved.

Right now, the party says J&K is nothing more than a "expedient strategic tool" and all policies related to the state are seen "through the prism of security and strategy" at the cost of "ideological moorings of democracy, secularism and federalism". The party plans tabling a draft Kashmir Policy on table in a special session of the parliament if it gets the mandate to do so. The party says J&K joined India not for strategic reasons but was "an ideological act of faith."

Justifying its agenda of working alongside India's minorities, PDP says in last 65 years access to education, health and other social benefits remained elusive to them creating a socio-economic gulf. "Our party favours equal opportunity and not equalizing distribution," the manifesto says. "For effective national integration, an affirmative action structure needs to focus on creating equal access instead of equal distribution." The party wants revival of various minorities related legislations and help create oversight guidance and effectiveness to state led affirmative action in the form of setting up of an equal opportunity commission.

On the administrative front, the party wants the Department of Kashmir Affairs upgrade into a ministry to "give it a developmental focus and not an overly security angle." MHA is currently managing this department. "By upgrading it to a ministry thereby will be a complete commitment and coordination to ensure accountability in human rights violations, security excesses, as well as focus on development with regional equality within J&K," the manifesto said.

The party will seek Lok Sabha's concurrence for creation of tax-free, sovereign wealth fund type J&K Infrastructure Development Fund under PPP mode. This fund could have offerings from Kashmir diaspora for managing the infrastructure deficit.

Apart from seeking discussions between state and centre on natural resources like water, hydropower and minerals because there are compelling systemic reasons to protect key revenue drivers of growth across sub-national economies, the party wants redefinition of special category states. The number of special category states has jumped to 13 from two and PDP sees it had an impact on the share of resource entitlement to the state.

Whether or not, the elaborate document will help the party send its veterans to the parliament, it just posses a question mark over the conduct of other parties. So far, not a single political party has come out with its manifesto. For the ruling NC-Congress coalition, having a manifesto was a must because they have more ideological issues involved in their alliance than others.

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