With PDP chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed giving a call for peace on Sunday after taking oath as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, will BJP now under Narendra Modi renew peace initiative undertaken by Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003?
Sayeed said he had told Modi that peace is his priority in his alliance with BJP to form the government and recalled Vajpayee’s days to renew peace efforts with Pakistan across the border, and attributed both Hurriyat and the ceasefire by militants to run smooth elections in the state.
On his part, Modi tweeted: “The PDP-BJP government is a historic opportunity to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and take the state to new heights of progress.”
Interestingly, former separatist leader Sajjad Gani Lone took oath as a BJP ally, and then warmly hugged Modi and Sayeed, triggering thunderous applause. It remains to be seen how long the bon homie lasts.
The common minimum programme (CMP) agreed to by the partners promises to transform Jammu and Kashmir as “the most ethical state … from the present day position of being the most corrupt state”, which means fighting corruption is on top of the agenda but the bureaucracy that is backbone of the government which is fighting the militants has to depend on them to run day-to-day governance.
It was true that officialdom’s corruption was the major cause of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir but removal of it and making the lower middle-class part of the governance is beyond reach now. Mere distribution of lakhs of rupees per household will not bring peace in the valley. How can we stop corruption among the government officials?
The CMP promised “genuine autonomy of institutions of probity” or giving the anti-corruption wing more teeth but buying peace with “all internal stakeholders” bereft of ideological views and predilections as mentioned in the program gives way to “adjustments” including tolerance for a corrupt bureaucracy.
Despite difference of opinion on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives sweeping powers to armed forces in the state, the bone of contention will remain valid for any split in future and the fall of the government too.
With divisive forces reigning high in the valley, it will be a litmus test for both the parties to keep the house in order in Jammu and Kashmir. As is the case always, the local party joins the ruling party at the Centre and here lies some scope for governance in a state that has seen terrorist attacks since 1989, leaving thousands killed.
Despite difference, good governance should win the challenge of satisfying the commoner first and then there will be no need for Armed Forces Special Powers Act. As is the case, status quo helped the Centre often in governing Kashmir better.