BJP relents on Article 370, PDP softens stand on AFSPA
PDP seems to have diluted its stand on controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) whereas BJP has taken a complete U-turn on Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and both the parties have left open the issue of rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees while chalking out a common agenda for the alliance.
The "Agenda for Alliance" released by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh spoke about many things including political and developmental issues.
On the Article 370, which gives special status to the state, the BJP, which has been demanding its abrogation, has now agreed on status quo.
"While recognising the different positions and appreciating the perception, BJP and PDP have on the constitutional status of J&K, considering the political and legislative realities, the present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K, including the special status in the Constitution."
In what could be seen as a compliment to the earlier government, the Agenda for Alliance said the situation in the state has improved vastly and to build greater public confidence in its sustainability, people of the state must be able to get peace and normalcy dividend.
"In this context, the coalition government will thoroughly review the security situation in the state with a view to examine the need for desirability of all the special laws being applied to the state in view of the situation improving.
"....the alliance government will examine the need for de-notifying disturbed areas. This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas." While the PDP had maintained in its manifesto that it will review the Disturbed Areas Act, its leaders, during electioneering, had promised that if voted to power, the party will ensure that the AFSPA is withdrawn from the state. BJP, on the other, had opposed any withdrawal of the AFSPA. When Sayeed was asked whether he was saddened by the stand taken on AFSPA, he shot back saying, "What do you want, peace or AFSPA?"
"I know how to ensure that Army is made accountable.
Being the Chief Minister, I am also the chairman of the Unified Command," he said. AFSPA gives immunity from prosecution and other legal proceedings to personnel of the armed forces . On 25,000 families of West Pakistan refugees, for whom BJP had promised citizenship of the state, the agenda on alliance government says it will "work out a one-time settlement for refugees from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir of 1947, 1965 and 1971." "Take measures for sustenance and livelihood of West Pakistan Refugees.
Extend all benefits accruing to the people living on the Line of Control to the people living on the International border."
Son of Maharaja's security aide is new J-K Deputy CM
Son of a security aide of erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, it has been a long wait for Nirmal Kumar Singh of BJP to come to the centre stage of state politics.
After having a heart-burn during the ticket distribution in last Lok Sabha election, Singh was the unanimous choice of the BJP for the post of Deputy Chief Minister. Singh contested several Lok Sabha and state assembly elections over the past 25 years but had to wait till 2014 for his maiden victory.
58-year-old Singh won the assembly election held last year from Billawar constituency in Kathua district by defeating sitting Congress MLA Manohar Lal Sharma by a margin of nearly 18,000 votes.
Singh, whose father was in the close security cordon of the then Maharaja of the state, was beaming as he walked to take the oath as a minister in the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government on Sunday.