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Ending Political Vacuum: Options in Kashmir

Published Nov 16, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

The Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu on 12 December said political vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir won’t last forever. Addressing a function LG Murmu said, “We are empowering people at grass root level. J&K is a Union Territory with legislature and one day there will be elections.”

 “The present dispensation is trying to develop road connectivity and is also planning to hold tourism and film industry summits in the Union Territory.” The LG asked the local youth to come forward and become a part of the development programmes.

“J&K youth are quite enthusiastic about different start-up initiatives of the government in partnership with the industry organisations,” he said, adding that “Militancy is under control in J&K.”

On the industrial development plans in the State, Mr Murmu said, “We need to have constructive participation from all industries to get travel advisories revoked. All of us will have to work collectively. Your cooperation is required. Misinformation needs to stop. Advisories will go.”

“We are thinking to create some clusters. We are also mulling biotechnology industries which would not pollute environment,” he added.

“The government is speeding up the development of various sectors and is also seeking private investments to make the Industry sector more vibrant,” he added. “These global conferences will be organized in close partnership with the business community of J&K,” he said.

The politics of Jammu and Kashmir has been largely dominated by parties in the Kashmir Valley with a few national parties including the Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party has a sizeable base in the Jammu region. Given demographics with approximately 7:5 ratio of population between Kashmir and Jammu there is a numerical domination of the Valley, the political impact of which is larger due to fragmented distribution over a larger geographic area in the Jammu region as compared to Kashmir.

The two mainstream national parties the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have had a large role in politics in J &K. They have been electorally significant though presently their influence has been restricted to the Valley. These parties have been accused from time to time of soft separatism.A new model was said to have been in the offing to replace the two main political streams in the Valley – the Separatists and the Nationalist parties. So what the Government finally decides to put into place remains to be seen?

On the other hand the government is hoping to generate a new set of political leaders at the grass roots.

The aim is to side line the mainstream parties except the BJP and introduce a new political firmament.

 Panchayats and BDC leaders are being supplanted in the mainstream to take their place.

This is evident from a number of statements that have been made in August September this year and the move to give a boost to the Panchayat elections and the Block Development Council polls.

The latter process will be a long term one and implies that elections will not be held any time soon. The Governor’s statement may however be made to assuage demands by foreign countries to restore political normalcy in Kashmir.