The four phase assembly election held during Atal Behari Vajpayee regime were termed comparatively stainless as the exercise sent Kashmir’s most influential family home: neither Omar Abdullah nor his uncle Dr Mustafa Kamal could win. Dr Farooq was not in contest. Results declared on October 10, 2002 showed NC as the single largest political party with 28 seats but the absence of first family scuttled efforts of getting power. Dr Farooq Abdullah who had skipped a contest and choose holidaying in South Africa with his daughter, flew back home the same day results were announced. PDP won 16 berths, Congress got 20, Panthers Party had four seats, CPI (M) two and rest were with the independents.
With NC voluntarily off the scene, the complex process for government formation began between PDP and Congress. The latter with more numbers insisted on leading the coalition that triggered a complex process of talks in which Mufti invoked the “”qualitative significance ” of his 16 anti-NC seats in Kashmir over the “quantitative importance” of Congress’s 20-seats in Jammu. The two parties took their time in talking it out but still required support from other parties to reach the 44 plus level. Finally, it was Dr Manmohan Singh of Congress and Ms Ambika Soni who finally stitched the alliance and also negotiated the deal with the independents. Unlike PP, CPI (M) stayed out of the government.
Mufti did not contest polls personally. He took over as Chief Minister on November 2, 2005, contested from Pahalgam and won in October 2004 and led the government till October 29, 2005 when put in his papers paving way for change of leadership of the coalition to Ghulam Nabi Azad. Congress High Command was double-minded on the issue, initially Mrs Sonia Gandhi suggested Mufti to continue but later he was given marching orders and asked to hand over the power to Azad. Azad government collapsed in wake of 2008 land row when PDP withdrew the support. This created a lot of tension between the two parties which they tried to address in 2008 but failed. Emergence of Omar Abdullah-Rahul Gandhi alliance was the end product of those tensions.
But the two parties had negotiated a common agenda for alliance and governance. Kashmir Life is reproducing the document here. PDP, this time, negotiated a much detailed agenda with BJP.
1) The Goal of the Coalition Government is to heal the physical, psychological and emotional wounds inflicted by fourteen years of militancy, to restore the rule of law in Jammu and Kashmir State, to complete the revival of the political process which was begun by the recently concluded elections, and to request the Government of India to initiate and hold, sincerely and seriously wide ranging consultations and dialogue, without conditions, with the members of the legislature and other segments of public opinion in all the three regions of the State, to evolve a broad based consensus on restoration of peace with honour in the State.
2) Ensuring safety of lives and properties, restoring dignity and honour of all persons in the State will be the foremost concern of the Government. The Coalition Government will take all possible measures, within its power, to protect al the people in the State of Jammu and Kashmir from violence and militancy, whether originating from within or outside the State, and to encourage those young men from the State who have restored to militancy to return to their families and the mainstream, with the belief that they will receive security and justice according to law. At the same time, the State Governor will fully cooperate with the Government of India in combating cross border militancy originating from Pakistan. Restoring Peace and Normalcy and Curbing Corruption.
3) The Government shall review all cases of detainees being held without trial for long periods. It shall release all detainees held on non specific charges, those not charged with serious crimes and those who have been held on charges that are such that the period they have spent in jail exceeds their possible sentence.
4) The Government shall review the operation of all such laws that have been used in the past decade to deprive people of their basic rights to life and liberty for long periods of time, without due legal process. Where the Government dreams that some special powers need to be retained, it will ensrue, by instituting careful and transparent pre-screening and monitoring procedures, that such powers are used sparingly and those entrusted with them are held accountable for any misuse.
5) All cases of custodial killings and violations of Human Rights shall be investigated and persons responsible for them will be identified and punished appropriately.
6) The Government shall strengthen the State Human Rights Commission to make it an effective instrument for addressing the grievances of the people of the State.
7) The Government shall formulate a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package for those families affected by militant violence over the past decade. The ex-gratia relief at Rupees one lakh per deceased person in militant violence will be raised to Rs. 2 lakhs. In recruitment to Government posts, preference will be given to one member of each familiy where an innocent member has been killed in the militancy related violence.
8) The Government shall implement special schemes to rehabilitate former militants who have forsworn violence and rejoined the mainstream.
9) The Government will reach out to the children, widows and parents of the deceased militants and make endeavours to provide free education to the militancy affected orphans.
10) The Government reaffirms that the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their mother land is an essential ingredient of Kashmiriat. The Government will seek the cooperation of all elements in the society to create an atmosphere conducive to their safe return, will take all necessary steps to ensure their safety and devise effective measures for their rehabilitation and employment.
11) Persons living close to the line of control and the international border face special difficulties due to recurrent tension and cross border violence. Permanent shelters will be constructed in all vulnerable areas to prevent loss of life. The Government will also devise a scheme to provide, wherever feasible, alternative land to such families in safe zones.
12) The Government shall give top priority to ridding the State administration of corruption and nepotism, especially in the award of Government jobs and contracts and places in institutions of higher learning. It will endeavour to make the selection process to all those positions and institutions fully transparent.
13) The Government shall establish an institution or “Ehtisab” for enquiring into complaints received against Chief Minister /Ministers and legislators. The appointment to this post shall be made by the Chief Minister in consultation with the Chief Justice of the State High Court and the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
14) A Commission will be set up to make recommendations for reform of the Police Administration to make it a more effective and humane instrument for investigation of crimes and for the enforcement of law and order. The Government will ensure that the personnel in Special Operation Group (SOG) are assimilated /relocated within the regular police establishment.
15) The Congress-PDP coalition Government considers that there are enough laws in existence to deal with militancy. Therefore, it will revoke /not implement POTA in the State.
Employment Oriented Development Strategy:
16) Our Government shall make sincere efforts to ensure that all the three regions of the State –Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh receive an equitable share of resources available for development. It shall set up a State Finance Commission with a statutory status for this purpose and the effort will be to ensure that the backlog of development and employment at the regional and district levels is made good within a specified time frame.
17) The Government shall press for the inclusion of Dogri in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
18) The Government shall grant full powers to the Autonomous Hill Council for Leh which has hitherto been deprived of its legitimate powers. Efforts will be made to persuade the people of Kargil to accept a similar Autonomous Hill Council for Kargil.
19) Our Government will give top priority to the preparation of an employment oriented medium term development plan laying particular emphasis on the development of agriculture, horticulture, handicrafts, tourism, information technology, food processing and environment friendly industrial activities. Efforts will be made to evolve a development strategy which provides at least one productive job per family.
20) The Government shall accord due consideration to the recommendations of the Wazir Commission.
21) Employment and welfare of the youth will receive special attention. Measures will be taken to help those youth who have fallen victim to drug abuse and narcotics due to frustration and unemployment.
22) The Government shall constitute Delimitation Commission for delimiting the legislative Assembly constituencies, as required by law.
23) High priority will be given to the development of power resources of the State and to extend the benefit of electricity to all villages of the State. The State Government will ask the Central Government to ensure that the power generation in the State should be available to the maximum extent possible for meeting the needs of the State.
24) Special emphasis will be laid on provison of basic minimum needs such as provision of safe drinking water, sanitation, rural roads, primary health care and elementary education and school buildings.
25) A new scheme will be prepared to universalise access to elementary education for all children. Services of unemployed graduates will be utilised for this purpose.
26)A comprehensive plan for the development of environment friendly tourism in all the three regions of the State will be prepared bringing the hinterland districts on the tourist map of the State. Special measures will be taken to facilitate and protect pilgrim related tourism.
27) Panchayati Raj institutions will be given both functional autonomy and adequate financial support for making them an effective instrument for decentrailised development. Early elections will be held wherever they are due.
28) Keeping in view that women have borne the brunt of violence in more ways than one over the past decade, special welfare programme will be designed for women such as widow pensions, subsistence allowance for women headed households and self employment schemes for young women.
29) Special emphasis will be laid on promotion of welfare of backward communities including Gujjars and Bakerwals, scheduled castes and tribes. The Government will strive for the extension of scheduled tribes status to the Pahari speaking population of the State.
30) Effective measures will be taken to check unplanned and unauthorised growth of towns and cities. Jammu and Srinagar municipalities will be given the status of corporations to ensure orderly development of all civil facilities. Effective measures will be taken for orderly growth of towns and cities and for provision of basic civic amenities thereof.
All the three regions of the State have got religious minorities which face special problems. The Government shall give full protection to the minorities and safeguard their rights. A minority Commission will be constituted to look after the interests of minority communities.