Till the 1980s, nothing much happened for the development of Jammu & Kashmir. But then there were many states which were backward at that time. The real disparity began after Liberalization.
That’s when many States joined the development highway and things started getting steadily worse for J&K. The 1990s and 2000s were a terrible time
for the State thanks to militancy and things worsened during the Kargil War.
The first great positive trend for the Valley was the decline of militancy in 2010. This happened due a combination of many factors, but the biggest was that the Pakistani terrorists started destroying their own country.
Groups like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan see the Pakistani Army, the US and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan as bigger threats than India. Pakistan is
truly imploding from within.
The second great trend was seen during the Lok Sabha elections. Narendra Modi promised development wherever he went and he made great progress in most underdeveloped areas of India.
One such was J&K where the BJP won an unprecedented 3/6 Lok Sabha seats.
Modi had finally won over the State for the BJP. He didn’t disappoint. He took a tough stand at the border and gave the BSF full power to defend the borders and Pakistani firing has come to a low.
He is in the process of drone surveillance for the border and having a satellite monitor the area and hence militants will find it tough to infiltrate like they have done in the past. Modi then turned to the State elections.
He drew big rallies and found that the people of the Valley were desperate for a big change and development. The turnouts show record highs and there were even some pockets which saw 80%+ turnout, something unheard of in the elections of the State.
2014 is a watershed year.The way it has been a DMK-ADMK pendulum since 1967, it has been an NC-INC pendulum in J&K right from the 1947.
The first exception was Ghulam Mohammad Shah’s Awami National Conference from 1984-86. But then again Ghulam was Farooq’s brother-in-law, so it really wasn’t any different.
The second exception was Mufti Mohammad Sayeed from 2002-05. But that time the NC was first with 28 seats and the Congress second with 20 seats. Sayeed’s PDP was in a junior alliance and really couldn’t do much.
When it comes to J&K, it has been nothing but a tale of two dynasties. After Independence, Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru decided the fate of the State. Even in the 1980s, Farooq Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi were calling the shots.
The people didn’t have any say.
In 2009 it was again Omar Abdullah and Sonia Gandhi. You just couldn’t get the two dynasties out of the system. Things seemed destined to be the same forever.
But now in an unprecedented scenario, the NC and Congress have come in third and fourth in the 2014 J&K Assembly elections!This after drawing a blank in the Lok Sabha polls in the State. The two dynasties have finally been made irrelevant and Jammu & Kashmir can finally look forward to something totally new.
Though it is a hung Assembly, it points to a much weakened NC-Congress.Relative newbies PDP and BJP have emerged as the top two parties in the State and it remains to be seen how they go about doing their business.
Looking at the numbers it PDP-BJP seems to be the only possible working coalition.
If the two parties bury their differences and get together, then there is great scope for development in Jammu & Kashmir. New roads, new railway tracks, new bridges and what have you. The tourism industry can be made world class.
Industries can be set up for which there will be jobs for Kashmiris and there will then be less attraction in militancy for the youth.
For the first time we will have a government that can break free from the shackles of the Abdullah and Nehru-Gandhi dynasties.
The new government will know that only development will keep them in the good books for the people in the State and get them re-elected in 2019 too.
The whole focus in the State will shift from religion, separatism and militancy to development, something that benefits one and all. Indeed, 2015 can well be called the Year of Hope for the Kashmiri people.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.