September 2002 News

''Devolution talks will resume with new J&K Govt.''

29 September 2002
The Hindu

JAMMU: The BJP general secretary and Centre''s interlocutor for holding discussions on devolution of powers with the Jammu and Kashmir Government, Arun Jaitley, today said that only a ''structured agenda'' can satisfy the genuine aspirations of all three regions of the State. Addressing newsmen here today, Mr. Jaitley said: '' The talks on the issue of devolution of powers will resume, after the elections, with the newly-elected government.'' ''Any talks on devolution of powers to the State will have to take into consideration important questions such as the equitable share of political as well as economic powers to all the three regions.'' '' If we think that the powers have to be devolved to Srinagar city and this is what makes the whole State, then that will be a very myopic view to take and not based on the ground realities of the State which is composed of three different regions Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and real devolution can take place only when the whole polity is decentralised and powers trickle down to the lowest tier. '' ''On the contrary, the powers which are already existing with the State Government are more than in other States and they have not been devolved to Jammu and Ladakh.'' ''What is the guarantee that after giving more power to the State there will be a further devolution of powers to these regions?, '' he asked. Pointing out to the alleged regional imbalances he said: '' It should be known that the State is not just Kashmir Valley but also Jammu and Ladakh and any process which does not involve them is bound to fail.'' Mr. Jaitley said: '' There are visible regional imbalances in the present set-up which few will doubt. These are serious matters such as less seats to Jammu in the Assembly. The voters here are more than in the Kashmir Valley which cannot be dismissed. '' '' We will also base our devolution of powers to the State on the reports like the just-published ones of the Justice Venkatachaliah or even the Sarkaria Commission,'' he said. Terming the just-concluded elections as a turning point in the history of the State, he said: '' People have braved the fear of the gun in Jammu as well as in the Valley. The two rounds of elections have proved to the world that people of the State are alienated from terrorism and believe in democracy.''.


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