The hoax called regional autonomy
The National Conference Chief has promised regional autonomy to Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir regions if his party comes to power in the state. This promise has also been given a time limit of 30 days in case the party forms the next government.
The regional autonomy slogan has been carved by the party in a bid to woo the voters in a highly polarized state after the right wing BJP shared power for almost three years with its regional ally, the Peoples Democratic Party.
On the issue of regional autonomy, the party is claiming that a roadmap in this regard was drawn between 1996 and 2002 during its rule and its larger objective would be politico-economic empowerment of all the regions of the state.
Jammu and Kashmir no doubt is a unique state that needs special dispensation in terms of autonomy to different regions to satiate urges and aspiration of the people, but the move to announce regional autonomy when the state-centre relations have been at an lowest ebb is something which the party leadership needs to clarify.
Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmir region has been on a boil since the past few years. The situation is so volatile that even the parliamentary polls could not be held in the south Kashmir seat of Anantnag last year. The volatile situation saw a poll boycott by regional parties during the recently concluded local body polls and the polls conducted without their participation saw the lowest poll percentage of votes polled in most areas of the Kashmir Valley.
The situation has not changed since then and the ground situation regarding the conduct of polls is known to all. In such a situation NC’s plank of regional autonomy is seen as just a poll gimmick and nothing else.
The party’s sincerity towards the people of the region especially Kashmir, can be gauged from the fact that when NC President was detailing about the proposal of regional autonomy to reporters in Jammu, its low ranking leaders were showcasing their concern on the killings in Kashmir by staging a 200 meter walk in a highly fortified area of Old Zero bridge road in Srinagar.
What was interesting to note is that not a single senior leader which includes party patron or even his son Omar, bothered to participate in the protest. The party by trying to carve out a poll gimmicks to make itself relevant has exhibited its greed to grab power at all costs rather than come forward to show some concern towards the deteriorating situation in Kashmir valley.
Polls and governance issues and slogans like regional autonomy can be raised only when the Kashmir issue is given some direction and an all inclusive dialogue is held to reach out on some agreement so that the killings and destruction can stop.
The regional political mainstream parties have a responsibility for ensuring that to happen. Other issues can wait and these issues can be worked out once some impression of peace gains momentum.