‘Democratic govt is always better than Governor Rule’

‘Democratic govt is always better than Governor Rule’

Kashmir Magazine

Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) President and former Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir has in an exclusive interview with Kashmir Magazine talks about prevailing political situation in the state, need for reviving Indo-Pak dialouge and dynasty politics in Jammu and Kashmir.


Q: How do you view the prevailing political situation in Jammu and Kashmir?
The state is under Governor Rule currently which is always a temporary phase and can never be a substitute to the democratic rule. Even if the democratic rule is not upto the expectations of the people, it is still better than Governor Rule. But we have to see the circumstances due to which Governor Rule was imposed in the state. The PDP-BJP alliance in the state was most hated by the people and they wanted that government to fall.
When Governor Rule was imposed after the fall of the PDP-BJP alliance, people had a sigh of relief. Today you can see the anger against the government has come down. Militancy incidents are still happening, but the people are more or less now content.
But the problem with the Governor Rule is that people at the ground level don’t have access to the government is less. The complaints regarding developmental issues of common people and public grievances will increase with time as they don’t have access to the officers. In coming times, people will again start demanding the return of the democratically elected government.

Q: Do you think time is conducive for holding Panchayat elections and Urban Local Body polls?
Tell me don’t people want development. Aren’t people coming on roads demanding proper development? When such is the demand who can reject the demand for holding Panchayat and Municipal polls? The development process which can happen through elected Panchayats and Municipal Councils can’t be held otherwise. Elected representatives mean that they will run the development projects after taking common people into confidence which is always better. I don’t think militants will have any objections in it.
The panchayat and municipal works are being done presently but it is being done by the government employees on the directions of some political panchs. There is one section within political system who doesn’t want elections to be held. But election is in the interests of a common man. No political party wants to strengthen the grass roots level democratic institutions. If Governor takes a decision to hold pacnhayat elections and it is held successfully, it will add a feather in his cap.

Q: Don’t you think militants will target people participating in Panchayat elections?
Why will militants strike those participating in these polls? Do they have any vested interest in allowing the loot by some political leaders? Don’t militants want development here? What harm these elections will do to their struggle? It won’t make any difference to Kashmir problem.

Q: Then why couldn’t bye-election for south Kashmir Parliament seat be held?
Ruling alliance knew that they will lose the election and that is why they postponed the polls indefinitely. Otherwise when bye-polls could be held for Srinagar seat, why couldn’t it be held in south Kashmir?

Q: Coming to government formation. Do you think a new alliance should be formed in J&K?
As I earlier said that democratic rule is always better than Governor Rule, but the current Assembly has lost its relevance. In the last three and half years’ time, Governor Rule has been imposed three times. It means this Assembly doesn’t have the capacity to run the government. There are rumours that PDP and other parties will split and a new government will be formed which will be political suicide. Those people who will be part of this government will be insecure and how will they run the government. The government which will neither have support of people and will be insecure can’t even govern properly and good governance is out of question. They will be discredited.

Q: Do you want to say it will be Ghulam Mohammad Shah like government of 1984?
That was different. That time National Conference leadership split. The present situation is different. People this time are ready for mid-term polls. They were fed up of the PDP-led government.

Q: There is a perception in Kashmir that people vote here but the governments are formed in Delhi. Do you agree?
No I differ with it. When mandate is fractured and national parties get seats, they have a say in government formation. If regional parties would get majority the national parties won’t have any say in the government formation.

Q: What are your views on stalled Indo-Pak dialogue?
There is no way out but to talk. When Atal Behari Vajpayee and later Dr Manmohan Singh were heading the governments in Delhi, there was a dialogue process going on between India and Pakistan. But unfortunately for the last almost a decade the process got derailed. In the recent years PM Modi took some initiatives to revive the dialogue process with Pakistan like his surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015. But unfortunately, Pathankot terror attack happened and it again got derailed.
There are vested interests in both India and Pakistan who don’t want dialogue process to succeed. But both the government need to take steps to restore the dialogue urgently and carry it forward. There might be some hiccups which need to be taken care of. There is also a need to find a permanent solution to vexed problem of Kashmir keeping in view aspirations of the people of the state. Modi government is in a better position to find a viable solution to the problem in view of his public mandate and the support of all opposition parties on the issue.

Q: How do you view BJP’s withdrawal from alliance government in J&K?
When Mufti sahib entered into an alliance with the BJP in 2015, he had termed it as an alliance between ‘North Pole and South Pole.’ But the reality is that ‘North Pole and South Pole’ can never match. It was proven when BJP withdrew.

Q: Do you regret leaving PDP?
These are old issues and let us not discuss it this time as it is not an appropriate time.

Q: Some people allege that Mehbooba Mufti was ‘incompetent’ to handle the government. What is your view?
Today Imran Khan is becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan. What experience he has of administrative issues? Mehbooba Mufti joined politics in 1996 and became party president in 1999. She has a vast experience of running the party. She had administrative experience as well. When Mufti sahib was Chief Minister, at the backseat Mehbooba would run the matters. So I don’t think she was inexperienced. But why she couldn’t do what she should have done is debatable.

Q: Was Mehbooba’s decision to continue the alliance with the BJP after her father’s death in 2016 correct?
Mehboobaji can better answer this question whether her decision was right or wrong.

Q: What is your view about the PDP rebel legislators?
There is always difference of opinion among the political parties. But the rebels can answer why they chose this time. It is a testing and crucial time for PDP.

Q: Is there any progress on Third Front issue?
Apart from National Conference, PDP and Congress, there are political leaders in the Valley. There are also people who don’t participate in election process. They may also be thinking if there is a viable alternative, they too may participate in the elections. But it has not taken a shape yet. There is lack of consensus among the leadership outside the three main political parties.

Q: What are your views about dynasty politics?
We curse this system, but unfortunately also follow the same system. Democratic process must not be on the basis of inheritance but on the basis of merit.