PM’s complete silence raised many eyebrows
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s first visit to J&K after the revocation of Article 370 and 35-A, speculations were rife in the corridors of power that the PM may set the tone for the forthcoming Assembly polls after the completion of the delimitation exercise.
But infrastructure development and efforts being made to reach out to the youth by creating adequate employment opportunities remained the focal point of his 40-minute-long speech on the occasion of Panchayat Raj Diwas in Palli Panchayat of Samba district on Sunday.
Modi’s ‘discreet’ silence over the restoration of ‘statehood’, a timeline of the Assembly polls, and no reference to the prevailing security scenario in the light of recent developments and change of guard in Pakistan became the talking point after the public rally.
Leaders belonging to different political parties and even the common people were waiting to listen to the Prime Minister’s words on the future road map of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the Prime Minister was speaking for the first time in front of a mammoth audience of around 1 lakh people his complete silence raised many eyebrows too.
Shortly, the three-member commission headed by Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai is expected to submit its report any time before May 6. So no reference to Assembly polls is being seen as a clear indication that the Centre may not be keen to hold polls immediately after the conduct of the Amarnath yatra and may extend the election calendar to early next year.
“We are dismayed and disappointed with the speech of Prime Minister Modi at Palli. We were expecting him to spell out the political roadmap, a possible timeline of the Assembly elections after the culmination of the delimitation exercise”, Chief spokesman of the J&k Unit of the Congress party Ravinder Sharma said.
Later, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee in a written statement also mentioned that the Prime Minister did not utter a word about the promise to restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, on the floor of parliament, when he visited here the first time, after more than 2 and half years after it was disbanded and downgraded to UT.
The Prime Minister also did not mention a word about the possibility of holding early Assembly elections, aș it shall be four years în June when Jammu and Kashmir were puț under Governor’s rule.
JKPCC maintained, “The Prime Minister was expected to address the aspirations of people of all sections, who are seeking restoration of full statehood and early restoration of democratically elected government but it has proved that BJP does not bother about the people’s aspirations and hardships under the bureaucratic regime, not accountable to the people.”
“BJP is running a proxy government through LG administration and has developed vested interest, hence delaying assembly elections on one pretext or another”, said JKPCC.
Referring to the ongoing Delimitation Commission exercise JKPCC spokesman Ravinder Sharma said the government has remote-controlled the draft report of delimitation which is highly defective but the commission is not listening. “If the delimitation is managed and manipulated, it amounts to rigging before the actual elections”
The PM has assured the all-party meeting în June last year that the Delimitation Commission shall hear everyone, especially stakeholders but the commission has done an eyewash and presented a biased draft report, which is heavily defective and requires a complete review.
Referring to various developmental works initiated or completed, Sharma said that it is welcome that the government is pushing forward the developmental projects initiated by the previous UPA and carrying forward the developmental process but a lot more needs to be done.
Referring to the security scenario and increasing unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharma said, “it is very unfortunate the Prime Minister had nothing to say to the unemployed youth in the region”. Our neighboring country had recently witnessed a change of guard and there has been a sudden surge in the incidents of violence but the PM adopted complete silence.
During his speech, the Prime Minister had given assurance to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. He said “friends, believe my words, the youth of the valley mark my words, the difficulties faced by your parents and grandparents, you will not face those problems. This I will accomplish and I have come to assure you of that.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister had claimed it is a landmark day in the development journey of Jammu and Kashmir. He thanked the people of Jammu and Kashmir for their enthusiasm. The Prime Minister said, due to his long association with the state, he understands the issues involved and expressed happiness about the focus on connectivity in the projects inaugurated and for which the foundation stone was laid today. “Projects worth 20 thousand crore rupees related to connectivity and electricity have been inaugurated and the foundation stone has been laid here. To give a new impetus to the development of Jammu and Kashmir, work is going on at a fast pace. These efforts will provide employment to a large number of youths of Jammu and Kashmir”, he said
Meanwhile, a senior columnist and former Head of the History department, Jammu University Prof Hari Om said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Jammu visit was disappointing. He didn’t utter a word on Kashmir Jihad. Nor did he utter a word on the woes of Hindus of Jammu. He also didn’t say a word about the expelled & persecuted Kashmiri Hindus. It’s unfortunate he remained mum even on the security scenario in the region.
Prof Hari Om said, Prime Minister is a good orator and has always delivered political messages directly or indirectly but it was for the first time he was observing silence. He said, remaining silent also signified many things. He is trying to convey a message that as long as we will not finish our job of developing Jammu and Kashmir we will not talk about politics. Prof Hari Om said in other words he is signally elections are not going to be held very soon and may take some more time.
Hundreds of Panches and Sarpanches who had come all the way from Kashmir valley and different district headquarters of Jammu and Kashmir provinces went home a dejected lot empty-handed.
Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, a deputy sarpanch from the Kulgam area while reacting to the Prime Minister’s speech said, “I was very happy when I arrived here. I was expecting our Prime Minister to announce a package for the members of the Panchayati Raj institutions. What we received in return was only a ‘Lollipop‘. Nothing else. The Prime Minister remained mum over issues faced by people in Kashmir valley. Bhat claimed despite security concerns we decided to participate in the grass-root politics but in return, the government is not paying attention and doing enough to empower these institutions so that hardships of common people can be minimized by taking the development projects to their doorsteps.
Anil Sharma, President of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference said, “it is very unfortunate today we were celebrating Panchayati Raj Diwas and we have lost around 30 elected representatives but not a single word was uttered by the Prime Minister or tributes were paid to them as a mark of respect”.
Sharma said, “we were also expecting a clear signal from the Prime Minister with regard to holding of Assembly polls in the Union Territory. Sharma said bureaucracy is dictating all the policies in the UT in the absence of a popular government. The Prime Minister also avoided a direct reference to this. No other significant announcement was made as regards burning issues of Jammu and Kashmir starting from unemployment, empowering Panchayati Raj institutions, acknowledging sacrifices of martyred members of the PRI’s”.
Several other elected representatives claimed we have been listening about infrastructure projects in the region for a long time but on the ground, people are still facing severe power and water crises. “We want to strengthen the democracy at the grassroots but the government is not paying attention to resolving our grievances”.
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