Most of the post-partition era was dominated by one key debate in J&K—”discrimination”. There have been already two commissions of enquiries looking into the allegations of the one region devouring the other’s rights.
But state’s heterogeneity, ethno-cultural divisions and regional politics has never permitted this issue to settle. As the governance structure takes care of one issue, other crops up.
Lately, Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s fresh state visit coincided with Jammu bandh against centre’s decision to give AIIMS to Kashmir. Though the hospital was part of major federal initiative across India, but it was caught in regional debate in J&K.
Amid Jammu’s mounting AIIMS desperation (making it a front page news), certain elements in Kashmir too reacted. They demanded IIT and IIM already allotted to Jammu. So far, there were never any murmurs on why Jammu got this. The debate was so instance that a scribe jokingly wrote on his FB wall: Either of the two lakes Dal or Wullar should be shifted to Jammu!
This ‘madhouse here and madhouse there’ debate has been fuelling local politics for a long time. Unlike Kashmir, where homogeneity has prevented this debate throughout, Jammu is re-packing its politics into narrowness of this debate, least knowing, it hurts Jammu more than Kashmir. In Kashmir, when it’s Jammu, it doesn’t exclude Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal valley, remaining at the backburner of the priorities in Kanak Mandi politics.
The latest is the ‘other opinion’: Jammu trade is keenly dishing out on GST – the new tax regime expected to roll out soon. J&K state has a different view on this subject. Given the obvious exclusivity that J&K enjoys in Indian federation, a pan-India tax regime devours J&K constitutional rights to legislate exclusively. This special position cannot be compromised at all, regardless of who rules at what cost. As the government has taken a line, it may need a follow up, the Jammu trade has started reacting to it.
But the interesting aspect of this debate is the timing. J&K is being ruled by PDP and BJP – the ideologically dissimilar two parties, which had very impressive footprints on ground when people came out and polled. Now, BJP in Jammu and PDP in Kashmir, are in tight spot. Will this debate lead to sharpening of differences between the two parties, remains to be seen?
Amid this raging debate, Sangh Parivaar is staring strangely at state issues. And now, BJP’s spokesperson Meenakashi Lakhi seems broadcasting this strangeness. Her suggestion of equidistant location of AIIMS has been as different as the Sangh view has remained historically.
Though the final call of making AIIMS equidistant to three regions lies with CM Mufti, but it remains to be seen what kind of parameters BJP-PDP evolve to locate fulcrum of a heterogeneous state – so that, the absurdity of such ideas can be put to test. But the issue of the discrimination requires a better investigation, almost on year to year basis, to ensure no region lacks the rights over resources. Start such investigation from Kupwara and end in Poonch and then new policy making can take over the NITI-Ayog mantra.