Diluting JK Autonomy

The Rs 745 crore the Prime Minister announced at the conclusion of his Kashmir visit comes from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and not in response to the Rs 44,000 crore sought by the state government for reconstruction and rehabilitation after the recent floods. On an earlier visit to the state, the Prime Minister had released Rs 1000 crore for the flood-hit, an amount, it has been reliably learnt, not fully utilized. Central government functionaries accompanying the Prime Minister have made it clear in strong terms that the state government needed to spend the funds immediately. The latter’s failure on this count has been delaying a comprehensive package from New Delhi, senior officers in the state believe.

The Prime Minister said that people in Jammu and Kashmir had approached him with requests to transfer relief amounts directly to their bank accounts. This speaks volumes about the credibility of the state government and the trust people repose in it. Seeing the union government considered more prudent and trustworthy, the National Conference and the Congress must be biting their nails, particularly when, post-floods, the centre rules the state’s affairs. The coalition partners have only themselves to blame.

Pertinently, after receiving him in Kashmir, Omar Abdullah chose to stay away from the Prime Minister’s engagements at the Raj Bhavan, and instead of the Chief Minister, the latter sought details about relief and rehabilitation from Governor NN Vohra. As the head of the state government, it is the Chief Minister who ought to have briefed the Prime Minister on vital details. With elections round the corner, and the BJP eyeing its 44+ target, Narendra Modi has as much stake in Kashmir as Omar Abdullah, and will, therefore, try his utmost to win people over.  Relief amounts, hence, are likely to go directly to the accounts of the flood-sufferers. Jammu and Kashmir’s government and politicians have little reason to accuse New Delhi of diluting the state’s autonomy. Their own repeated failures have brought it to this pass.