Describing People’s Democratic Party as a movement for peace and reconciliation, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Wednesday said his decision to stitch together an alliance with BJP was to respect the mandate and build an environment to bring people in the three distinct regions of the state closer. He said the Agenda of the Alliance of the Coalition government, reached after two months of hectic deliberations, remains the binding force that will see a new phase of equitable development in the state. “I met Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi and discussed with him several important issues. He has assured me of Centre’s help in fast-tracking the development agenda of the Coalition government,” he stated. The Chief Minister was addressing a party convention, which was presided over by Member Parliament and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, here today. Besides senior Ministers, Legislators, Party General Secretaries and district and zonal presidents of the party attended the meeting. Elaborating further on his meeting with Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister said the Prime Minister has a vision to speed up inclusive development in the state. “The new think-tank of NITI Aayog has assured us of our share in the Central funds as per recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission Award. We will use optimal utilisation of these funds and ensure that every penny is spent,” he said, while also referring to the kitty of Rs.6000 crore allocated to J&K under the Centrally-sponsored schemes. Welcoming the new office bearers, Mufti Sayeed observed that all issues indicated in the Agenda of the Alliance mutually agreed to will be implemented and special focus will be given to return of Uri and Dul Hasti hydel power projects to the state. Highlighting J&K’s unique position as the only Muslim majority state in the country, Mufti Sayeed said the people need to safeguard the special status of J&K, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of India. He recalled with satisfaction the farsightedness of the leaders of the state who decided to accede with India. “Keeping in mind the multicultural ethos of J&K, the decision to go with India has proved to be the right one,” he observed. The Chief Minister also outlined his plans to broaden the scope of cross-LoC trade and travel in the state, which was started with much fanfare in 2005. He favoured opening of new trade and travel points across the Line of Control so that the biggest confidence building measure is taken beyond the ritual of meetings between divided families. “Cross-LoC trade and travel continues to be show-window for us. Our guests from PoK are amazed to see the huge strides made on this side on the development front,” he remarked. Calling for friendly relations with all its neighbours, the Chief Minister said continued confrontation with Pakistan seriously impedes development of the state, which eventually results in people bearing the brunt of sustained hostilities on the borders and the LoC. He also praised former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for his vision and conciliatory moves in improving ties with all its neighbours, including Pakistan. Drawing the attention of party workers towards holding elections to local-self government institutions, Mufti Sayeed, who is also the Chief Patron of PDP, said he wants to make people at the grassroots’ level real partners in state’s development. “Delegation of powers to panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations will help in optimal utilisation of financial resources and improve public delivery mechanism by involving the elected representatives,” he added. Asking party workers to feel the discernible change emerging on the ground, the Chief Minister said the government in its short tenure of seven months has taken several steps to provide good governance and lay base of a fair and transparent administration, which is responsive to the needs of the people. “We have improved connectivity and taken several initiatives in education, health and tourism sectors to provide succour to the people,” he added. Referring to the recent death of Zahid Ahmad Bhat, who had received severe burn injuries in Udhampur truck attack, Mufti Sayeed said those responsible for his death will not go unpunished under any circumstance. He said the Cabinet in one voice condemned the dastardly act and vowed to defeat the nefarious designs of the divisive forces which are out to damage the pluralistic fabric of the state. Reflecting on government formation, the Chief Minister said a lot of thought went into the decision to form government with BJP, which had won a massive mandate of the people in the parliamentary elections and Assembly polls in Jammu region. “The interests of people was paramount when we were framing the broad contours of the alliance, which took us two months,” he added. The Chief Minister credited the Party President for keeping the party together and sharing the grief of people in distress. He said PDP is a young party on which lot of people have pinned their hopes and expectations in delivering a fair and transparent government. Congratulating the new office-bearers of the party, Mehbooba said PDP doesn’t crave for power but has a much larger goal to achieve, which gives people a sense of empowerment and ownership of the state. She said the government will complete its term and fulfil all demands of the people, with special focus on providing job opportunities to educated unemployed youth. “The Ministers will have to play a proactive role as Chairmen of their respective District Development Boards so that government’s promise of good and speedy governance is delivered right at the doorsteps of the people,” she added. The PDP President urged the Ministers to be accessible to the people so that they obtain a firsthand feedback about the ground situation and also take corrective measures wherever necessary. Referring to the Udhampur incident that consumed life of an innocent young boy, the PDP President said the government doesn’t believe in mere lip service but affirmative action, which saw PSA slapped and investigation for murder charges initiated against those who have been accused of committing such a heinous crime. Also present were Ministers, A. R. Veeri, Javed Mustafa Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Abdul Haq Khan, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Naeem Akhtar, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Aisea Naqash and Abdul Majeed Padder, Legislators, Party General Secretaries, Nizam-ud-din Bhat and Rafi Ahmad Mir and Political Advisor to PDP President, Peerzada Mansoor, besides all District and Zonal presidents.
2015 Kashmir Despatch