Thursday, July 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No pre-’53 status to J&K: PM
NC can quit if it wants

CHENNAI, July 5 (Agencies) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today ruled out any return to the pre-1953 position in Jammu and Kashmir and said it was up to the National Conference (NC) to decide on whether it wanted to continue in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) following the Union Cabinet’s decision to reject the autonomy resolution passed by the state legislature.

Mr Vajpayee, who spoke briefly to newspersons at the airport here, before leaving for Kayathar in Tuticorin district, was responding to a question on whether the NC would remain in the NDA.

Asked if rejection of the autonomy resolution would be discussed in Parliament, he said “I am willing, if the Opposition wishes to do so. It will be discussed by forwarding a motion.”

He said he had firmly told NC leader and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, when the latter called on him recently, that “if more political and financial powers were required, they could be discussed. But there is no going back to the pre-1953 position.”

Speaking to newsmen at Coimbatore airport on greater delegation of powers to the states, he said “that is what we are doing. We are implementing our manifesto and giving all support to the states.”

He ruled out dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly as demanded by some opposition parties in the wake of the state assembly passing the autonomy resolution.

There was also no proposal with the Centre to prevent other states from passing resolutions seeking autonomy.

He ruled out any Indian mediation in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

“There is no question of mediation by India”, he told reporters here when asked if the LTTE had sent feelers to India to mediate.

On the devolution package offered by the Chandrika Kumaratunga Government, he said there were differences but that would not create any division in the island republic. Nevertheless ‘a way has to be found’, the Prime Minister said.

On the airing of different views by 

NDA constituents in Tamil Nadu over the issue, Mr Vajpayee said he did not think there was any problem on this account.

“I had a detailed discussions with various leaders.” All problems could be solved through discussions which has been the policy of the NDA and “every problem will be solved amicably”, he said.

He later left for Kayathar in Tuticorin district to inaugurate a wind energy project.

He said the Centre would soon formulate a comprehensive policy on renewable energy.

Dedicating to the nation, the 15 MW commercial wind power project and the test station of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology here, he said the central government had envisioned a major role for renewables in every sector in the new century.

Among the goals envisaged in the policy statement for 2012 is increasing the share of renewables in the additional installed power capacity from the present 1.7 per cent to ten per cent. That implied a figure of 10,000 MW in the next 12 years, Mr Vajpayee said and invited business houses, especially the big ones, to come out with major investments to achieve this goal.

The states have a major role to play in the accelerated development and usage of renewable energy, he added.

The Prime Minister urged other states to emulate “the good example of Tamil Nadu and integrate renewable energy in power development programmes”. The states could even consider prescribing a minimum quantity of electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources, he said adding that this could apply to all the power projects in the public or private sector.

He said there was a close link between energy and development. Rapid development of agriculture and services was inconceivable without energy sufficiency. Unfortunately we have failed to evolve a proper policy to ensure this through a well coordinated approach to generation, transmission and distribution of power, he added.

As a result, many states were facing chronic scarcity of power and this in turn had slowed down their economic and social development, he said.

For instance, even today as many as 77 million households, comprising 350 million of our people still do not get electricity. This, of course, did not apply to Tamil Nadu, which had achieved 100 per cent rural electrification, he added.

He said, India had a potential in wind energy equivalent to 45,000 to 50,000 MW. While installed capacity was only 1170 MW.


Farooq left with 3 options 
Go tough, quit or order poll

From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, July 5 — Finding itself between the devil and the deep sea after the Union Cabinet rejected the Autonomy Committee report, the National Conference leadership in Jammu and Kashmir is left with just three options.

In fact the choice has become limited for the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is under pressure from the hawks within the ruling party to adopt tough postures against the Centre because he and his party took a hasty step in getting the autonomy resolution adopted by the state Assembly on June 26. This hasty decision was equally countered by the quick decision of the Union Cabinet which turned down the demand for restoration of pre-1953 constitutional status to the state.

As such the Chief Minister cannot but keep the autonomy issue alive by organising party rallies and public meetings so that the ruling party can mobilise peoples’ support for autonomy. While doing this the National Conference may kick up anti-Centre feelings which could some to the rescue of the party during the next elections.

The second option for the Chief Minister is to quit and feel free as an opposition leader to raise emotive slogans which will help him in gaining peoples’ sympathy. History is replete with instances when a ruling political leader of Kashmir becomes the “darling” of the people once he is “kicked in his shins” by the Centre. This is what happened in 1984 when the goverment of Dr Abdullah was dislodged by defectors with the help of the then Congress Government in the Centre.

But National Conference sources are of the opinion that such a course would be “suicidal” for the National Conference leadership because Dr Abdullah is yet to regain his base in Kashmir as large sections of people in Jammu and Ladakh regions have turned hostile because of their anger against the demand for greater autonomy.

Another avenue open for the Chief Minister is to order elections. The Assembly elections are due in 2002. Political observers are of the opinion that one of the ideas behind raising the demand for restoration of greater autonomy was to prepare the ground for the mid-term elections. His plan was that the matter would be a prolonged affair as he had envisaged that the Centre may refer it to Parliament or set up a ministerial committee for discussing the Autonomy Committee report with the state Government. Had this happened Dr Abdullah could convince the people that the issue was being pressed seriously and cash on it. The sudden decision of the Union Cabinet has upset his plan.

He is not sure of the strength of his party with regard to winning the battle of the ballot. The ruling party’s stand on greater autonomy has won peoples’ sympathy but Dr Abdullah is not yet sure that this sympathy will earn votes for him and his party in case early elections are held.

For the time being the Chief Minister has seemingly decided to swallow the bitter pill to the Cabinet rejection of the Autonomy Committee report which is indicated by his statement that he is not planning to pull out of the NDA. He maintained in Delhi that the autonomy issue and the alliance with the NDA were to different things.

He knows it better than anybody else that by taking a tough stance with the Union Government he would be in difficult situation when the Hurriyat Conference, the Congress and the PDP led by Mufti Mohd, Sayeed are “baying for his blood.”

Informed sources say the Chief Minister will on the one hand keep the autonomy issue alive and on the other try to cement his relations with the central government which alone can help him in resolving the current financial crisis.

The sources say the ruling National Conference may raise the autonomy issue again when the state legislature session is convened in October. The Chief Minister will also send some of his ministers to several other states to interact with political leaders so that they are convinced that the one way to deflate the separatists is to grant greater autonomy to the state.

Whatever may be the future course of action the National Conference adopts for the time being new dimensions have been added to the political instability and confusion in the state. As a result of this confusion there is need for better understanding between the state and the central governments so that the anti-insurgency operations are not affected. 

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