As Jammu and Kashmir has started the process of sending a new group of representatives to the new Lok Sabha, Muhammad Younis offers certain basic details about how the seven representatives performed in the last five years
As the curtains fall on the last Lok Sabha, the campaigning has already started for the 17th parliamentary elections to choose new lawmakers. The process has started in Jammu and Kashmir too, even though the political parties are unhappy for delinking Lok Sabha from the state assembly elections. The parliamentarians and the parties must be busy drafting their report card about what they and their representatives did in the house. The 16th Lok Sabha was counted low on productivity. The number of hours the House functioned during the period was 1615, which is less than the average of its predecessors at 2689 hours of business. The 16th Lok Sabha held its sessions between June 1, 2014, and February 12, 2019.
In the last Lok Sabha, Jammu and Kashmir sent seven individuals. The state has only six berths.
Mehbooba Mufti, the only female candidate who was elected at the inception from south Kashmir Anantnag has to resign midway after her father passed away. Nobody replaced her. In case of Central Kashmir’s Srinagar constituency, Dr Farooq Abdullah joined midway after PDP’s Tariq Hameed Karra resigned midway and joined Congress.
Using the data available from open sources including the PRS Legislative Research, the performance of all the seven leaders is based on their attendance, a number of questions and participate in debates.
Elected on May 18, 2014, Mehbooba Mufti’s term ended with her resignation on July 4, 2016. She had resigned from the position after she took over as the Chief Minister of the state, a position that fell vacant after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, her father, passed away. It was her second term to the parliament. She had previously represented Anantnag in the 14th Lok Sabha (2004–09) but did not contest the 2009 election for the 15th Lok Sabha.
In her period, she had participated in nine debates and asked 26 questions. The questions she asked ranged from security issues to developmental problems like development of Smart Cities, investments in J&K, the students of J&K studying outside the state, withdrawal of security forces from J&K and undertrials lodged in Jails.
Some of the debates she initiated in the parliament were related to apple growers of the state and the problems faced by the Kashmiri students in getting scholarship under the Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme.
Interestingly, the south Kashmir seat remained unrepresented in the Lok Sabha after her resignation. Though the party had fielded Tasaduq Mufti, her younger brother, to contest the by-election in July 2017, the elections did not take place because of the violence in an earlier by-election for Srinagar seat.
Muzaffar Hussain Beigh
From Baramulla constituency, Beigh’s term started on the same date as that of Mehbooba Mufti and is still in his office. At 11 per cent, his attendance was the lowest of all the members elected to the parliament across the country except actor-turned-politician from West Bengal, Adhikari Deepak (Dev) of the All India Trinamool Congress who shared the same percentage.
During his five year term, the questions raised by him were 19 in number, and he participated in only three debates. It was his first stint in the parliament. He majorly initiated debates that pertained to the violence in Kashmir. Some of the questions raised by him were about the safety of the Kashmiri students across the country and the loss to the press and electronic media in the state during the mass protests of 2016, and whether the Government had any special plan for providing relief to the newspapers by increasing DAVP rates.
A former Deputy Chief Minister, Beigh has been a top lawyer of the state and is an impressive orator. But he did not use his capacities in creating a strong impression in the parliament. Earlier in his political career, Beigh was so keen to get into the Lok Sabha. He had contested from Baramulla many times.
Tariq Hamid Karra
Tariq Hameed Karra, former Finance and Housing minister were elected to the Lok Sabha from Srinagar. It was his first term that he earned by defeating Dr Farooq Abdullah. However, his term ended prematurely when, at the peak of 2016 unrest, he put in his papers and resigned from the basic membership of the party. He remained in the Lok Sabha for less than two and a half years. His attendance during the period remained 34 per cent. He participated in four debates only, and 20 questions raised by him were majorly related to the security situation in Kashmir.
One question that he asked twice was about the “possession of a large number of orchards and buildings, both Government and private by the army and other security forces in Jammu and Kashmir”, and the amount of rent / compensation outstanding against army and other security forces for the land and buildings under their use in J&K?
Karra did utilise the mandate to raise the issue and would routinely talk to the media about the prevailing situation in Kashmir. He, however, remained busy in a cold war with the party leadership that eventually led him to come out.
One of the most respected Ladkahi leaders Thupstan Chhewang joined Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and won with a slender margin. From the arid region, it was a high-altitude victory for the right-wing party. However, the Ladakhi leader resigned from the membership of the party and the Parliament on December 13, 2018. He had developed many problems with the party and had taken a strong exception to young leaders from the BJP attempting to overrule him and in fact, according to sources, hoist juniors on him against his will.
In the Lok Sabha, his attendance remained 89 per cent, the second highest for any MP from Jammu and Kashmir during the period. He participated in 20 debates which were mostly about the need for developmental improvements in Ladakh, and questions asked by him were 31 with almost the same purpose.
Dr Farooq Abdullah
It was an interesting case. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he lost with a huge margin. Next time, on April 15, 2017, when he went to campaign for the polls, he had the “Kingslayer” – Tariq Hameed Karra, following him. Karra, who joined Congress after coming out from PDP, was supporting Dr Farooq to regain the seat he had made him win. And he won. But the participation was quite thin as slightly more than seven per cent voters participated.
This was Dr Abdullah’s third time in the parliament. In an earlier stint with Congress, he was a minister too.
In comparison to all others, Dr Farooq’s 68 per cent attendance is slightly better. But the veteran’s participation in debates has been minimal: he participated in three debates only and he asked only 13 questions. The questions were mainly developmental.
Given Dr Abdullah’s persona, he would still be in the news. In fact, he would create news, sometimes by making a harsh statement or some time by getting into a Bhajan sabha.
Diabetician Dr Jintendra Singh Rana was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time. Given his capacity as a speaker and writer, he was appointed a Minister of State in the PMO and was the closest to the Prime Minister on Jammu and Kashmir affairs. Given his job, he was not supposed to either get into the debates or ask questions. However, it was Dr Singh who did most of the talking on Jammu and Kashmir. It was perhaps why so many people thought that had the BJP its say, he may be the choice for Chief Minister of the state.
Jugal Kishore, a former lawmaker from the state assembly, had his first term in the Lok Sabha. He maintained a distinguished performance in all aspects. His attendance was 91 per cent, he was responsible for initiating about 92 debates, and the questions he asked were 292. In fact, the combined participation of the three PDP MPs in parliamentary debates is 16 which is much lesser than the participation done by Jugal Kishore. Besides, one private bill goes to his credit.