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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

NC, Congress to push for reforms after Kashmir rout

IANS  New Delhi, May 30, 2014
First Published: 16:34 IST(30/5/2014) | Last Updated: 16:37 IST(30/5/2014)

After their washout in the Lok Sabha election, the ruling National Conference-Congress coalition in Jammu and Kashmir has decided to reach out to people and push for administrative reforms.
 
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah "is meeting party cadre and people from the grassroots. We are trying to become a more people-friendly government. We are taking feedback from all sections of society to improve governance," Abdullah's political secretary Tanvir Sadiq said.
 
With only a few months to go for the assembly polls, the National Conference and the Congress are giving their best shots to regain lost ground.
 
Abdullah has in the last one week made attempts to woo youth. These included making his email (gupkar@gmail.com) public, lifting the ban on pre-paid SMS service, and initiating steps to scrap the state's two-year old stipendiary recruitment policy that was widely attacked for allowing daily wage workers earn more than what a new appointee in the government did.
 
 
State Congress joint secretary Salman Nizami said inducting youth in large numbers would check polarising tendencies among the electorate which he claimed was marked in the parliamentary election.
 
"If youth is with us, the communal forces will be at bay," Nizami told IANS. He admitted that the NC and the Congress had failed to reach out to people adequately.
 
"Some MPs were not visible in their constituencies. In some cases, even the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds were not utilised," he said.
 
Saifuddin Soz, the state Congress committee chief, told IANS that polarization of voters on religious lines was a major factor in the coalition's defeat. "The media generated a wave for Modi," he said.
 
"The Election Commission could not control whatever transpired at the grassroots in the aftermath of riots in the country, be it in Muzaffarnagar or Kishtwar," Soz said.
 
Of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all three in the Kashmir Valley while the other three went to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
The most high-profile defeat for the coalition was of former chief minister and UPA cabinet minister Farooq Abdullah. He lost to PDP's Tariq Hamid Kara in Srinagar.
 
Former health minister and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad lost to BJP's debutant Jitendra Singh in Udhampur.
 
The NC feels it scarcely focussed on local issues.
 
"We focussed more on Modi and our campaign was directed at stopping the communal forces from coming to power at the centre. The PDP, on the other hand, talked about local issues and was successful," Sadiq said.
 
Nizami alleged that the BJP's call to revoke article 370 of the constitution, which ensures a special status for Jammu and Kashmir, also pulled in votes.
 
The BJP knew that the promise to revoke the constitutional provision would divide Hindus and Muslims, Nizami said.
 
The opposition is not impressed by the NC-Congress coalition's post-election promises to reach out to people.
 
Naeem Akhtar of the Peoples Democratic Party said "the people-friendly steps" by the ruling alliance have been taken under pressure from the PDP.

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