Intro: The budget deadline is approaching rapidly, but the dominant parties in the State of Jammu and Kashmir do not seem to be coming closer.
“Delhi elections and the government formation here are not connected.”
—Naeem Akhtar, PDP chief spokesman
Elections often do not result into perfect outcomes. Fractured mandates are a reality of democracy. Rather than blaming the electorate, a better approach is: “voters have done their job, its time for the politicians to do theirs”. Political bickering is inevitable and problems in coordinating adequate numbers are bound to arise; but the sufferer in the process is the economy-depriving the people of not just administration but effective welfare schemes. The political stalemate has been a recurring phenomenon, but the politicians in economically advanced countries have tried to sort out their problems with economics on mind.
In their modern existence, western politicians have got their economic mostly priorities right. Problems do persist in the United States and regions of Europe. But the undeniable fact is that the leading countries from the European region are those that have insisted economic concerns to supervene the political activity. There is an example of warring Senators and Congressmen in the United States unable to agree on a budget from time to time, but we need to choose appropriate precedents for guidance.
Another example is the impact of the markets that resulted into an urgent government formation in the UK in 2010. The government was formed in the UK within a short span of time: 7 May and 12 May 2010. The mandate was fractured with Conservative Party as the single largest party with 290 seats, followed by Labour 247 and Liberal Democrats 51. Traditionally, Labour and Liberal Democrats have enjoyed ideological closeness. Despite their closeness and comfort the concern was forming a quick government. The economy was in recession and waned under the financial crises. The political parties (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, considered to be diametrically opposite on issues such as joining the European Union and choice between first past the post or proportional representation for elections chose to keep their ideological considerations apart and form a government, based on a common programme in a very short time. Inspite of stalemate and near failure of negotiations, the political parties continued negotiations. It was the concern of the response of the markets to this wriggle of government making that expedited the negotiations and resulted into the formation of the government.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor’s Rule following a fractured mandate in the Assembly Elections held last year. The alliance talks between the two-BJP and PDP have been on a standstill due to the Delhi elections. Absence of government has serious economic implications. The first duty of the State Government is to present the budget under Article 202 of the Constitution of India. This duty is arriving soon and we do not have a government. It is not that an alternative arrangement for performing the constitutional duty in the absence of a Government is not present, but such a budget would fail to represent and comply with the aspirations of the populace. The people of the State of J&K came out in large numbers to express their faith and conviction in democracy. The alternatives in the absence of a government are not in consonance with an effective democracy. The budget deadline is approaching rapidly, but the dominant parties in the State of J&K do not seem to be coming closer. The imperatives to form government are constitutional, but more than that they hold economical significance.
The people have given a mandate, divided equally amongst the two principal regions: Jammu and Kashmir. It means a coalition government that fulfills the aspirations of both these regions should be formed. The parties that have majority in these regions are a natural choice to form a government. It is time to deliver on the figures with economic objectives on mind, rather than quibbling over the ideological dogmatism.There are many pressing needs of the State that can be resolved only by a stable government. The unemployment rate is high, alongwith the wastage of apple due to lack of storage and transport facilities, and falling yields of apple and shrinking coverage of valuable saffron growing area. There are many grants from the Central Government, most of which are under utilised. For the stable state-of affairs and equitable growth in the state of J&K, in today’s time there is a need to undertake steps to implement and review the steps taken under Rangarajan Report to generate employment in the state.
Dr Anirudh Rajput (The writer is a Supreme Court Lawyer and Director JKSC)