The J&K state hosted two high-profile rallies this past week. In one rally, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was hitting left, right and centre. And, in other rally at Budgam, National Conference chief and UPA Minister Farooq Abdullah was countering the Modi’s influence.
“Let him finish the dynastic politics within his party,” the senior Abdullah said in the rally. “He [Modi] has a habit of lying. I want to remind him that if he points one finger at someone, three others are pointing at himself.”
Farooq Abdullah said India will turn into a dictatorship if Modi becomes India’s Prime Minister. “If Modi becomes the Prime Minister, India will become a dictatorial nation and only God knows who will survive that (his rule),” said Abdullah, who is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Srinagar constituency.
Abdullah said there was every possibility post the Lok Sabha elections that a Third Front government backed by Congress may come to power at the Centre.
Abdullah said if need be, Congress should support such a formation at the Centre to keep the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate away.
A day after, NC patron was addressing National Conference women workers’ meeting organized at its Headquarters at Nawa-e-Subh in Srinagar.
Dr Abdullah told women workers that history is a witness to the fact that National Conference has always given utmost respect, dignity and a sense of equality to women and made education accessible to them in the State. “It is because of the leadership of National Conference, its vision and policies that women of J&K are today playing a vital role in the transformation and development of our State. National Conference came into being to uphold the self-respect and dignity of the people of this State and has rendered numerous sacrifices for the sentiments and aspirations of the people,” he said.
Abdullah said that historic decisions and steps taken by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Begum Akbar Jahan for the upliftment and welfare of women continue to help us scale new heights even to this day. National Conference has always played a pivotal role to open closed doors and empower the women of our State to break the glass-ceilings of suppression and gender inequality.
The candidates now in Lok Sabha elections are officially authorized to spend Rs 70 lakhs in big states from earlier Rs 40 lakhs. In smaller states the ceiling was raised from Rs 22 lakhs to Rs 54 lakhs. The expense limit was upped when UPA-2 Delhi cleared a proposal by Election Commission to increase the expenditure limit.
But the question arises: does it have anything to do with the reality? During the last general election, almost all the eleven candidates declared election expenses of less than 50% of expense limit.
This raises a question on the need to increase expenditure limit without taking into consideration the blatant misuse of black money in elections.
Experts suggest that the raising the ceiling is not going to address the real issues. The need is to have transparency in the funding and source of funding, along with penalties for not being transparent.
In Table is given the amount spent in Jammu and Kashmir during the last election
|1||MadanLal Sharma||Congess||Jammu||Rs 808196. 45.
|2||Lila Karan Sharma||BJP||Jammu –Poonch||1270438.|
|3||Peer Muhammad Hussain||PDP||Islamabad||16, 18, 740.|
|4||Mirza Mehboob Beg||NC||Islamabad||Rs 24, 46, 102|
|5||IftikharHussain Ansari||PDP||Srinagar||Rs6, 14, 530|
|6||Dr Farooq Abdullah||NC||Srinagar||Rs 1133551|
|9||Hassan Khan||Indepndt||Ladakh||Rs 3, 97, 550|
|10||Ch. Lal Singh||Congress||Udhampur||Rs 14, 82, 694|
|11||Dr Nirmal Singh||BJP||Udhampur||Rs 15, 37397|
With now ceiling raised and candidates having liberty to spend more, the question of transparency still exists. Officials the claims are over ruled what is being done ‘unofficially.’
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) presently all set to launch a vigorous anti-encroachment drive in Srinagar city has shot a letter to the CRPF to remove concertina wires placed in several areas in order to facilitate a free pedestrian passage in the city, a statement said.
In its letter, to the Inspector General of CRPF Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Shafqat Khan, health officer of SMC has said that besides being a serious public health hazard as it is reported that same is causing injuries to women and children and the elderly, the concertina wire is also becoming a reason of defacement of many important and vital areas in the heart of Srinagar City.
“SMC has launched massive anti encroachment drive in Srinagar city in order to clear all encroachments in the Srinagar City and during the said drive it has been found that at many places the concertina wire is causing obstruction and hindering free passage to pedestrian movement. The concertina wire has also become a serious public health hazard as it is reported that same is causing injuries to women and children and the elderly,” the letter shot by SMC has said.
Dr Khan has said that the concertina wire is also becoming a reason of defacement of many important and vital areas in the heart of Srinagar City.
“It is therefore requested that in the common interest of general public and in view of the inconvenience and a public health concern, kindly issue immediate instructions to your field staff to remove the extra quantity of concertina wire from all the prominent places of the city and in future adopt a more humane and rational use of this concertina wire,” the SMC letter reads.
The abrupt increase in the airfare, well before the peak time of tourism season has made it unaffordable for most of the Kashmiris travelling to and fro from Kashmir.
The airfare for Srinagar has risen more than the airfare for international tours. Presently, the airfare on Delhi-Srinagar sector starts from Rs 13,000 and goes up to Rs 21,000. And the airfare from Jammu to Srinagar costs over Rs 12,000.
On the contrary, the airfare on Mumbai-Jeddah sector is just Rs 9,000 and Delhi-Dubai Rs 8,000. The airfare from Delhi to several tourist destinations in India is quite low as compared to that of Kashmir. While from Delhi to Kashmir it is Rs 13,000 minimum, from Delhi to Jaipur it is just Rs 4,000. Again, from Delhi to Shimla, the fares are in between Rs 7,000 to 9,000.
During this week the cheapest air tickets on yatra.com by Spice jet from Mumbai to Srinagar costs Rs 29,008 while from Mumbai to Dubai it costs only Rs 13,262. Makemytrip.com sells Indigo Airlines ticket from New Delhi to Srinagar for Rs 13,823 while New Delhi to Goa ticket costs Rs 11,148.
Likewise, the cheapest Jet Airway ticket from New Delhi to Srinagar costs Rs 20,465 while for New Delhi-Kerala trip it is Rs 11,148.
Jammu and Kashmir has recently bagged the ‘National Tourism Award’ for 2012-13 in the ‘Best State-Comprehensive Development of Tourism’ category. But now when government has expressed their helplessness to control the steep increase in air fares on Kashmir route, Minister for Tourism Ghulam Ahmad Mir recently said neither State nor Centre has any say to fix the prices of air tickets of the airlines. But instead both State and the Center government were working out a plan to reduce passenger taxes.
Mir even said though State government had taken up the matter with Civil Aviation Ministry “but to no avail”.
Meanwhile the tourism players are alleging the air carriers in connivance with tourism traders of some other states are ‘deliberately making Kashmir a costly destination’.