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Time to get down to work

india Updated: Dec 31, 2008 00:02 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Bijli, sadak, paani (Power, roads and water) — these were the issues on which the political parties fought the recent elections in Jammu and Kashmir. But as it becomes certain that Omar Abdullah will be the state’s next chief minister, it is also certain he will have to focus on reconciliation between regions and communities, apart from the promise of basic amenities.

Abdullah wooed the electorate in the name of good governance during his election campaign, cleverly de-linking it from larger issue of the ‘Kashmir problem’. Experts and political analysts now say the agenda for Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will have to be far beyond the day-to-day issues.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that wants to play the role of a “good, constructive Opposition”, agreed that the division caused between Jammu and Kashmir by the three-and-half-month-long agitations over the Amarnath land row since August was indeed an issue and reconciliation between the regions was “the need of the hour”. Party president Mehbooba Mufti pledged “positive contribution on this count”.

“Addressing the developmental issues can be a take-off point because better living conditions create an atmosphere” to resolve larger issues, said Muslim Kashmir editor Noor-ul-Qamrain.

But “the election was not all about the basic needs. The people voted for a larger agenda, (including) the resolution of Kashmir crisis, civil liberties and dignity and identity of the people of Kashmir,” said Mehbooba Mufti.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University and professor of International Affairs Amitabh Mattoo agreed with her. “The immediate thing is a better balance between citizens’ rights and the fight against militancy,” he told Hindustan Times on phone from New Delhi.

Mattoo is a native Kashmiri.

All-Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq wanted the new state government to focus on basic amenities and to leave larger issues — like the Kashmir problem — for the Centre to tackle.