Ahead of polls, a spurt of project launches in Kashmir

April 2nd, 2008 - 12:16 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Jammu, April 2 (IANS) Promises of thousands of jobs, launch of development projects, inauguration of museums, gardens and what not…it’s all happening in Jammu and Kashmir right now. After all, assembly elections are due this year. Around 50 different projects have been inaugurated and many others have become operational in the state after the budget session of the assembly ended in February. Health, electricity, water and education are the thrust areas of these projects.

“This is as per the unwritten principle of politics that guides us to capitalise on the short memory of voters,” said a legislator, pleading anonymity.

The present 87-member state legislative assembly completes its six-year term in October this year; elections in the state will be due around that time.

Once the election schedule is announced, ministers and legislators will get tied down to the model code of conduct that bars the government from announcing any major sops to the electorate to prevent unfair swings in the voting pattern.

“They (the government) want to cash in on all these schemes and announcements before the elections are announced and the model code of conduct comes into force,” said Mian Altaf Ahmed, a legislator of the opposition National Conference.

The government - with the People’s Democratic Party and the Congress as its key partners - has already promised that 70,000 youths will get jobs this year as contract/ad hoc assignments in various official departments.

Rupali Bhardwaj, a housewife, said, “On one hand the government does not even have money to pay salaries to employees on time and on the other they are making such tall announcements.”

Other projects inaugurated include Asia’s largest tulip garden in summer capital Srinagar thrown open by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi March 29.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad laid the foundation of an International Trade Centre at Pampore in the Kashmir valley March 17. Then on March 19, he inaugurated a proposed 200-bed hospital and a meeting hall in Dak Bungalow in Sopore, north Kashmir.

On the same day, he inaugurated a new Rs.280 million building for a state museum on the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar.

On March 22, Finance Minister Tariq Hamid Qarra announced a Rs.80 million Industrial Training Institute in Srinagar spread over more than 2.5 hectares of land.

Public Health Engineering Minister Dilawar Mir March 24 sanctioned four water supply schemes in Lolab, north Kashmir.

However, opposition parties and many commoners say the tactics are crying foul.

“There is no merit in the series of announcements and inaugurations. They are inaugurating even old schemes and works just to fool people and woo them,” said Altaf.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Ashok Khajuria said: “While doing so, the ruling alliance has shown there is bankruptcy of ethics and is shamelessly carrying on with these pranks to dupe voters.”

“Voters are smart enough to see through such deceptions,” he added.

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