Intro: We are committed to bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir together and establish the example of national integration. We are confident that not mere politics but the path of development only can ensure J&K’s participation in the prosperity of India.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has created problems for its alliance partner BJP by releasing the separatist leader Masarat Alam from Srinagar jail. PM Narendra Modi himself had to give statements on this in the Parliament. In this context, Prafulla Ketkar, Editor, Organiser spoke to BJP’s National General Secretary Ram Madhav, who played a crucial role in finalising the BJP-PDP alliance in J&K. Here are the excerpts:
- There is a perception that J&K CM Mufti Sayeed has given a big jolt to the BJP by releasing Masarat Alam. What is your take on this issue?
BJP has decided to form the government with PDP after a long process of consultation and keeping the aspirations of the people of J&K in mind. It is unfortunate that the decision to release Masarat Alam was taken unilaterally. This decision did hurt not only the BJP and its workers but also the people of India. As we also are a part of the government, it is our responsibility to oppose such unilateral decisions. Regarding this all MLAs of BJP have met the national president Amit Shah and registered their protest. Even the Home Ministry is not happy with the report sent by the J&K government. The real issue is which parameters were followed in this process of releasing the arrested person under Public Safety Act? Though the process was initiated even before the BJP-PDP government took over, it is to be reviewed whether the state government can take decisions in such matters without the permission from the Centre. We also need to understand the procedure of Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) as the separatist was detained under the act.
- What message you will give to the BJP cadres regarding the continuation of alliance with PDP?
This issue is not limited to BJP cadres alone, whole nation is concerned about it and rightly so. This is not a political issue but related to national security and integrity. We are aware that the cadre and common people are shocked by this development. It is our duty to be sensitive to the sentiments of the people.
- What will be BJP’s stand if such an incident takes place again in the future?
We are trying our best that incidents which raise doubts in the minds of people about integrity and security of the nation will not occur again. We want to assure our workers and people of the country that hereafter everything will be executed as per the Agenda for Alliance, the common minimum programme mutually agreed between BJP and PDP. No step to encourage separatism or hurting sentiments will be taken by the state government hereafter.
- Which are the provisions of the Common Minimum Programme that are ensured by the BJP in the interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir?
The government itself is formed as per the Common Minimum Programme. The agenda takes care of the interests of local people and state interests as well as the security and integrity of the nation. The government will focus on the rehabilitation policy, whether it is for the West Pak Refugees or the Hindus displaced from the Valley. The delimitation of constituencies is another key issue which is included in the agenda. On all these issues there will be policy formulation with mutual consultations.
- Opposition has been targeting CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for being pro-Pakistan, which has put BJP in an in-convenient position. What is your take?
Today, there are many perceptions about Jammu and Kashmir. First day what the CM said was whether deliberate or emotional statement, he will be able to tell better, but he is well aware of the character and policy of the BJP. We will never compromise on national security and integrity for the sake of power. We have already conveyed it clearly that the official representatives of the government should follow the Agenda for Alliance in letter and spirit. Both the parties should follow this policy.
- BJP and PDP are intellectually two different poles. This was immediately exposed after the government formation. Do you think this government will complete its tenure of six years?
Yes, it is true that the stated positions and style of functioning of the both the parties are radically different. Therefore, we took three months to think and negotiate while forming the government. We sincerely hope that this government will last for full six years and do well. It is true that these two parties coming together was by itself looking as an impossible proposition. Considering the nature of fractured mandate and interest of the state we came together. It can be a historical moment if this government successfully completes the term. In any coalition, both the parties feel that they are compromising. BJP known for its nationalist thought has allied with a regional party just for the interest of the state. We want to ensure long term and holistic development of Jammu and Kashmir.
- All over the nation BJP has given a slogan of Governance and Development. Is there any such policy for J&K as well?
In the Agenda for Alliance, 80% focus is on social, humanitarian and developmental issues, 10% on governance and 10 % are pertaining to general political issues. These issues can be long term development issues for J&K. We are committed to bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir together and establish the example of national integration. We are confident that not merely the politics but the path of development only can ensure J&K’s participation in the prosperity of India.
- How do you see the opposition parties coming together and questioning BJP’s nationalism on the issue of Masarat?
This is a mere politics. These are the same people who have encouraged separatists in the past. As far as our intention is concerned, we have never encouraged any terrorist or separatist activity; therefore, BJP’s thinking is not under question due to such allegations.
- PM Modi had to speak on the issue of J&K twice in the Parliament. Being the key negotiator in this process, did you even think that such situation may arise?
We knew very well that this path is not easy. Sincerely speaking first day itself we were hurt by the statement of the CM. The PM has taken the undisputed stand over the unity and integrity of the nation in the Parliament. Such incidents naturally create hiccups. We are organising a coordination committee at the state level for the smooth functioning of the government. This will ascertain the process of consultation and communication in running the government.
- There is a perception among people that though BJP and PDP have the same number of legislatures, BJP has settled for less important ministries. Don’t you think that BJP is on back foot on this power sharing issue?
This is not true. We agreed for equal ministries in the government. It was decided that the CM would be from PDP and the BJP gets speakership, and both the parties would have 12 ministers each. We have almost done that. All ministries are important. It depends on how you look at them. With 60-62 % of revenue, power is the most important ministry in J&K, it is with BJP. Industry is the second most important ministry which is also with BJP. Other significant portfolios like health and urban development are also with BJP. PDP has home, finance and revenue.
There are some ministries which are with the CM, but BJP has got minister of states. Instead of looking at the J&K in fragmented fashion, we have to look at it with integral approach. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed himself said in his meeting with the Prime Minister before the government formation that our aim should be to reduce the emotional gap between the people of Jammu region and Kashmir Valley. We can reach from Jammu to Srinagar in 20 minutes by air, while by bus it takes 6 hours. But the emotional distance between Jammu and the Valley is not covered even after 60 years. This government seeks to change this scenario.
- Media also tried to unnecessarily bring in RSS in this issue.
See this is a well known fact that before the alliance with PDP, BJP had consulted all the stakeholders and ideological fraternity of the party including the RSS. Then only we took a call on the alliance. Where is the issue of bringing RSS’s role here? The government is supposed to function as per the Agenda for Alliance and it is prepared by keeping all dimensions into consideration.