Elections on the anvil or preferential regional treatment?
SRINAGAR: A clear cut political division of labor appears to have taken hold between coalition partners, the BJP and the PDP. Each coalition partner devotes time to its political constituency instead of the state as a whole. While the PDP appears to be focusing on the Kashmir division, the BJPs focus is Jammu.
This is evidenced by the time that each party devotes to each division.
According to sources, the Deputy Chief Minister of the state, Nirmal Singh, especially after the AIIMS agitation in Jammu has hardly stayed in the Valley. He stays maximum in Srinagar for 2-3 days preferring to spend the rest of his time in Jammu. This, according to the sources in the Civil Secretariat, is a trend that is followed by other ministers like Priya Sethi (MOS Education, Culture), Bali Bhagat (Forest), Chander Prakash Gupta (Industries) and Abdul Ghani Kohli (Transport), Sunil Kumar Sharma (MOS R&B, Revenue) and Pawan Gupta (MOS Finance, IT). The exceptions to this trend were Lal Singh (Health) and Sukhnandan (PHE) who are reported to devote an equal measure to both divisions.
However entire BJP cabinet, including Lal Singh and Sukhnandan, move to Jammu over weekends religiously, these sources said.
This trend defies the normal practice and precedence of a skeletal and minimal ministerial presence in Jammu during Summer and in Srinagar during winter.
This new practice appears to have become institutionalized during the tenure of the current government. Waseem Maqbool, a political analyst, regarding this development wondered aloud and asked, if there was an understanding between the PDP and the BJP regarding this?. Could it be that the PDP and the BJP have reached a tacit agreement about the unprecedented and unusual rotation?, asked Maqbool.
A street vendor, Mohammad Aijaz, offering a street view extended the aspersions of Maqbool and opined, this trend could be because of the poor performance of the government. They may have arrived at some understanding and could be preparing ground for elections.
Against the backdrop of this development of spending disproportionate time in Jammu, it hardly is surprising that the state is suffering from a development and governance deficit. Politics and politicking seems to have triumphed over governance and administration. But what remains a poser is that even if the political class in Jammu and Kashmir is preparing for elections, what do they have to show to the people?
Besides the political angle and aspect, the whole issue once again opens the Pandoras box of the Durbar move. Politicians pay lip service to the move but in terms of substance and attending to peoples needs of the entire state, they prefer to service their own constituencies and regions.
When Kashmir Observer sought the views of coalition partner the PDP about the issue, the partys senior minister Syed Altaf Bukhari feigned ignorance, saying some of them may have their personal reasons to stay away from the valley.
When pressed whether PDP ministers would follow the trend set by their BJP partners and make the Valley their base instead during the winters, he said: I am not authorized to speak.
Attempts to reach PDP spokesperson Naim Akhtar did not materialized as his phone was switched off.