New Delhi, June 20: Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Ram Madhav, who is also the party incharge of Jammu and Kashmir, Wednesday said that the decision to walk out of the Mehbooba Mufti government was taken in national interest.
Speaking exclusively to national TV channels, Ram Madhav said that the BJP sacrificed its government but did not “abandon Kashmir”.
“We gave up our state government for larger national interest,” Ram Madhav said explaining the reason why the BJP suddenly snapped its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.
Responding to the prevailing situation in the state, Ram Madhav said, “We could not generate enough political momentum in Kashmir.”
Ram Madhav further said that pulling out of the coalition was the demand of the time. “We tried for two years but it was no longer tenable,” he said, adding, “Every alliance has uncertainty built into it. We tried to deliver on a number of fronts. We succeeded on many, we failed on some.”
The BJP leader dismissed the apprehension that the Centre will follow what is being referred to as a “muscular policy” in Jammu and Kashmir, giving the security forces a free hand.
He said, “We are not abandoning Kashmir. We have sacrificed our state government. We will take forward the agenda of Kashmir.”
Madhav said the death of Mehbooba’s father and then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in January 2016 was the first blow to the alliance. “In 11 months’ time, Mufti sahab passed away and that was the first setback for the alliance. Mehboobaji took her time, thus giving the impression to the opposition that she was not fully on board,” he said.
“It was a historic alliance. We do not believe in political untouchability. I agree that it was compulsion of the moment, but it was not an opportunistic alliance. Mufti described it as the coming together of the North and South poles… We tried our best to maintain this alliance and ensure that the government lasts its full term. I myself put in a lot of effort… but some alliances work and some don’t,” Madhav said.
Madhav said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made “no credible efforts” to restore peace in south Kashmir. “We wanted local body elections to be held. We had agreed to postpoll them till April, but I don’t see the polls being conducted in the near future either.”
Ram Madhav stressed on the BJP’s four-pronged strategy to restore harmony in Kashmir. He said that the party would neutralise terrorists in the region, further dialogue, encourage engagement with the people of the state and ensure the development of Kashmir.
Responding to a query about how Pakistan may react to the suspension of the ceasefire, Ram Madhav said that it was futile to mention Pakistan when it came to solving the problems in the Valley.
He said, “We don’t like Kashmir being hyphenated with Pakistan. We will be defeating our own purpose then.”
On the question of Article 370, Madhav said that abrogation of the special constitutional provision remained a key agenda of the BJP. However, he also said that Parliament had to take the final decision with regard to the repeal of Article 370 that accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
When asked why ceasefire was put into force this year not previous years, Madhav said, “There was a strong suggestion from Mehbooba Mufti and her party that let us try it out, let’s unilaterally show a gesture of goodwill.”
He said that this gesture has gone down very well with the people of the Valley and on that issue I agree with Mehbooba ji. She said yesterday that the peace has given a lot of relief to the people of the Valley. “At the same time, for that to sustain, there should be active political engagement. But that doesn’t happen if we are not able to engage with the groups that are out to create unrest in the Valley. How can we continue?”
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.