Congress’ Kashmir manifesto promises more power, autonomy

November 16th, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Nov 16 (IANS) A day before Jammu and Kashmir goes to poll Monday to elect its new 87-member state assembly, the Congress promised its people more powers, conmprehensive dialogue, and a federal set-up.The promise of more autonomy, dispute resolution mechanism and restructured state Constitution to allow greater federalism was held in the Congress’s manifesto for the seven-phase state election. The first phase of balloting begins Monday morning.

The 30-page party manifesto was released in Jammu by former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is incharge of the Congress’s election committee, and state party chief Saifuddin Soz.

It said: “Our main plank is development, dialogue and promoting normalcy.” The manifesto “pledges to people of Jammu and Kashmir” that the Congress is fully committed to the comprehensive devolution of power to Jammu and Kashmir state so that its people would be free to realize their full potential.”

The party has expressed faith that all the issues and disputes could be resolved through dialogue. The party has promised to “restructure the Constitution of the state into a federal set-up by setting up separate regional councils for Jammu and Kashmir.”

This could be furthered by “decentralization and devolution of powers to district and block level councils to ensure effective participation of people in the democratic system.”

Besides, the party has laid emphasis on setting up a delimitation commission to restructure the legislative assembly constituencies. The manifesto also speaks of consolidating the Panchayati Raj system.

Asked why was the manifesto’s release delayed, Azad said: “We have touched all these points during our election campaign though the manifesto has been released formally today.”

Bhisham Arora, a political science scholar, said: “This (manifesto) is almost a repeat of the 2002 manifesto and they (Congress) have been able to deliver hardly anything out of it.”

“All the parties in Kashmir are talking of more powers to state, regional governance and development using their own words and nomenclatures,” observed Yougal Gupta, a leading businessman in Jammu.

Sudhankar Sharma, a television script writer, said: “It was during the past three years of the Congress rule that we saw such a pace of development. The party definitely deserves one more strong chance to rule and deliver though many points in the manifesto may be a repeat of 2002.”

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