Jammu Starts Shaping Central Kashmir Policy

30 May 2014
The Hindustan Times
Tarun Upadhyay

Jammu: An unexpected shift on Kashmir policy is apparently on account of unnoticed factor, Jammu taking the centre stage. It's for the first time that point persons in the Central government are from this region, which had always been eclipsed by Kashmir. Finance and defence minister Arun Jaitely is married to daughter of one of Congress party stalwarts of Jammu region, late MP Gridhari Lal Dogra. Dr Jatindra Singh, minister of state Prime Minister's office, and union home secretary Anil Goswami are also from here. Late Dogra was the son-in-law of the brother of veteran Jan Sangh leader Late Pandit Prem Nath Dogra. The political narrative was always scripted and played up by the Kashmir-one of the three regions of the state- based parties. Even though MP Karan Singh and former BJP leader Chaman Lal Gupta have been central ministers, but played an individual role in contextualising Kashmir policy. National Conference had cultivated and nurtured close relation with the Centre. Its stand on restoring autonomy of the state was supported by Left parties. It's probably for the first time that there is no representation of Kashmir in the Centre and Left is virtually a non-existent entity in the Parliament. 'The dramatic announcement on starting process to abrogate Article 370, though supported by RSS, wouldn't have been possible had Jammu not got the clout. The three persons are now changing contours of the Kashmir policy tilting it in favour of the Jammu region, which favours it,' said a senior bureaucrat in the state, wishing not to be named. Jammu region, having 10 districts and 37 seats in assembly of 87, was always supportive to the BJP's concept of abrogating the Article. It's in favour of complete and full integration of the state. This gave BJP strength and power to propagate its ideology. 'The BJP now has bureaucratic and representative strength to take steps in this regard,' said the bureaucrat. Arun Jaitely is a regular visitor to Jammu and had often debated on abrogating Article 370. He was most vocal supportive of 2008 Amarnath land row, which started with a false notion that piece of land given to develop infrastructure for Amarnath yatris, would open gates for settlement of people from outside the state. Jatindra came into public life during this agitation itself. Anil Goswami had grown up in an atmosphere where there is a feeling, perceived or real, discrimination with Jammu region, made to play second fiddle to the Kashmir region.