Political uncertainties in India's Kashmir Will it be the same coalition between the PDP and BJP?

There are grave regional imbalances. Jammu and Ladakh are very poorly represented in the state bureaucracy and other jobs. All the major industrial units such as HMT watch factory, the telephone factory, the television factory and cement factory are in the valley, even though the valley is not at all suitable as every kind of raw material needed come either from or through the Jammu region. And the matter has become so perverse that no central scheme in Jammu can ever be allowed if a similar scheme is not replicated in the valley. For instance, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has two central universities, two AIIMS, two IIT-like institutions, something other states in the country can never dream of.

Every Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir demands crores and crores of rupees from the centre, but he is highly sensitive when matter of accountability of how the money provided by the centre is being spent. Is it being spent equitably all over the state or getting concentrated in the valley? No Chief Minister will like to provide a clear answer. It may be noted, and I am quoting former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah here, “if there is a government at the Centre which is unfriendly towards J&K, the state would be in deep trouble” financially. More than 60 percent of the state’s revenue comes from the central government. A Reserve Bank of India study in 2010 says that in J&K, the annual per capita spending by the central government is about Rs 20 lakh! In fact, a Kashmiri gets about eight times more money from the Centre than citizens from other states. And yet, spending on the social sector in J&K — schools, health, rural development  etc —is surprisingly low at about 30% of aggregate expenditure. That is the fourth lowest proportion among all states, the RBI-study said. So where is all the money going if it is not reaching the ordinary people of the state?

Ironically, it may be mentioned here that in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the state government spends cores of rupee on these anti-India ‘political activists’, including the separatists. State Government bears all the hotels, security bills of Hurriyat and other political leaders if these leaders will meet Pakistani High commissioner in New Delhi, the expenditure will be added to State’s account. According to some press reports, Jammu and Kashmir Government spends more than 100 crore on the security of these leaders every year. Data provided by the State government suggests that  in between 2010-15, a total 21 crore was spent (Rs 4 crore per/annum) on the hotel and Rs 26.43 crore on fuel expenditure of the Hurriyat leaders. Since 2010-11, the state has spent Rs 309 crore on the salary of guards and Rs 150 crore on the salary of PSOs who provide security to these leaders.

Viewed thus, one must salute the late Mufti Sahib that he had the required vision to lead the PDP-BJP coalition. The coalition represented all regions of the state. Here was perhaps the best opportunity in recent decades that there was a government in the state which  every ethnic community– Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists – could consider its own. Secondly, his was a government that the BJP-led central government, which will be there till 2019 whatever the Modi-bashers may say, was bound to help, both politically and financially. A stable government plans to fulfill all is promises over a period of four to five years. It cannot be judged over just 10 months that late Mufti was in office.

In sum, Mehbooba must be clear in her mind. Does she want to be the Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir or of the Kashmir valley? Her father, the visionary and nationalist that he was, thought of the whole state. It will be a sad day if Mehbooba reduces herself to be the leader of the Kashmir valley and invites sheer political chaos into a state that it can ill afford.