Will Modi’s meet with Kashmiri leaders restore democratic process?

By K S Tomar

Prime Minister Narender Modi’s initiative to convene a meeting of all political parties leaders, having divergent views to abridge an existing gap of mistrust and starting the process to restore the democratic process will go a long way in exhibiting the sincere intentions of center to bring people of Jammu and Kashmir into the national mainstream on the analogy of the rest of the states in the country.

Analysts believe that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and every Kashmiri leader got an opportunity to express his or her views without any inhibition and frankness which will contribute immensely in laying down the foundation of democracy which involves the measures like completion of delimitation of constituencies, holding the elections and restoration of statehood.

Political parties, however, differed from the center’s chronological order and first demanded the restoration of statehood which should be followed by polls and delimitation exercise.

Observers point out that dialogue always leads to reduce a trust deficit gap and the current initiative has also given evidence of resolving and neutralizing to some extent the bitterness prevailing among people and political parties which preceded the abrogation of rticle 370 and 35 A in 2019.

Analysts say that the union government’s decision to abolish a separate mechanism of governance has put a permanent break on Pakistan’s decades-old phobia of dreaming of Kashmir’s accession as

its part besides raising it at international fora to derive political mileage out of it.

Secondly, it helped the army and ‘puppet’ elected governments or army generals’ rule to sabotage the chances of improvement in relations between two countries to remain in power.

Finally, it also contributed to the rulers in Pakistan to divert the attention of people who have been witnessing turmoil as well as economic depression since the attainment of independence.

Former chief minister Mahbooba Mufti was blunt when she emphasized the dire need for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan which, she felt, is necessary for restoring peace in the valley.

Experts believe that a cursory look at Pakistan’s past misadventures make it clear that Modi did try to break the ice when he invited former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the swearing-in ceremony in

2014 and later attended a family function which was not approved by the army.

Political observers are debating the chronology order of the center to start with a delimitation exercise which will be followed by elections and finally statehood. But Kashmiri leaders including Congress want the order differently like first statehood then elections whereas delimitation exercise in the end after the elected the government assumes office in Srinagar.

Experts say that these leaders may have their opine vis-a-vis center’s action plan, hence they strongly favor restoration of the statehood at the top of the agenda as it would create good feelings

among the people across the state besides enhancing the chances of participation in the assembly elections.

According to RSS leader and former in-charge of BJP of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, Prime Minister’s meeting with the leaders of various political parties from J&K is significant for several reasons.

First, not a single invitee skipped or boycotted the meet. Second, this was perhaps the longest all-party meeting held in J&K in several years.

As per officials, 400 memoranda of understanding from businesses nationwide have been received, promising to invest in Jammu and Kashmir which will be tested once the money actually flows in, which will depend upon the peace and incentives given by the center and an elected government in Srinagar.

(Tomar is senior columnist and political analyst)

Image courtesy of (amarujala.com)

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