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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com
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People Power

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) was formed on 28th July 1999. Full text of the founders' day speech by the Chief Minister of J&K who used the occasion to highlight the work done by his party in these six years.

People Power
People Power
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has turned up at this venue in this scorching heat. We decided to hold a convention in every district so as to judge how and where we stand. The turnout here in Jammu has given me high hopes about everywhere else.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) was formed on 28th July 1999, and today we complete six years of existence. When I look back at these six years, I feel that there is a lot of change in the situation. When PDP was formed, we did not say anything that was new but simply stated the obvious. Perhaps the obvious was not getting articulated. We said that being a large democracy, India had to remember that that it is the people who are fountainhead of power. For after all, a democracy is of, for and by the people. Which is why we said that in order to bring peace and prosperity back to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was very important to win back the hearts and minds of the people, without which no success was possible. And that was our basic policy that we stuck to.

The people of Kashmir had suffered a lot in the previous fifteen years. They deserved some relief. The gun was no solution and dialogue was the only way out. But at that time, when we shouted "Grenade se naa goli se, baat baneygee boli see"  everyone laughed at us. And then the 2002 assembly election happened. We performed well, but could have done better. No party got a majority. We started negotiations with everyone to form an umbrella group. A huge political party like Congress was also convinced by our ideas and so was CPI(M), some independent MLAs and even Panthers Party. We all came together to form this coalition government.

Our common minimum programme was so convincing that even the BJP-led NDA government had no other option but to accept and endorse it. I was looking at a larger picture to turnaround the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. When I said that J&K would enter a peaceful era, some people said that it had to happen as an after-effect of 9/11. But it was not that easy.

People living near the LoC were seeing death and destruction everyday due to continuous shelling. They could not walk, or even sleep. So the ceasefire came as a real occasion for celebration. For it meant that they could work in  their fields and live without fear once again. We also stepped in to do what we could for the farmers whose land had been mined and crores of rupees were given away for this purpose.

This government created an atmosphere of peace and encouraged political activity as is normal in any other part of India. We promised a bus service between the two parts of J&K. And that promise was fulfilled -- that bus service has started. Even the Hurriyat Conference went to Pakistan through that bus. We did not oppose it. After coming back from Pakistan the Hurriyat is holding rallies all over the state. Does any one stop them? No. During his term as Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee had extended the hand of friendship to Pakistan from Kashmir. Had anyone imagined that the Prime Minister of India would hold a public rally in Srinagar? No.

It might seem immodest to say it, but perhaps it is time to acknowledge that it is we who made it possible.

In spite of all odds, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went ahead with the Srinagar-Muzafarbad bus service. Some people criticized the move, but the Prime Minister trusted us, as he should trust his own people and realised that the bus, apart from everything else, is a human issue. Which is why travel without a passport and a visa was allowed too.

That is not all.  The SAFMA delegation from Pakistan visited the state. They went back and told everyone back in Pakistan that J&K had a democratic and progressive atmosphere. Only few days back, Wagah border opened for trade after almost fifty years. Iran Gas pipe line is also bringing India and Pakistan together. As I speak, another batch of people has crossed the LoC via the bus.

I have said earlier as well that the peace process is irreversible and will go on. No one can stop it . Every other option that includes war has been eliminated. And that has been our biggest achievement -- peace with dignity. We told the security forces that anti-insurgency operations were all right, but innocent civilians should not suffer. We told them that these are our own people and had to be protected. Now the security forces acknowledge if they make a mistake. Isn’t it a change?

We managed to create a responsive government. A government that is responsive to regional aspirations too. Every region of the state gets its due share. Today no one can even say that a particular part of the state is ignored or another preferred. I challenge anyone to say that there is a discrepancy in our attitude. Not even our opponents can dare to say that.

Jammu and Kashmir as a state is evolving like old times. It needs to be given space to evolve. The Baglihar project is our jugular vein. It is the biggest project undertaken by the state government. Imagine what would 900Mws of electricity do to the development of the state. There is no breach of any treaty in this project. I say without any fear that Indus Water Treaty is an unfair and an unjust treaty as far as J&K is concerned. We have no natural wealth here except water. We have the capacity to produce 1600 MWs. Every village and very home in J&K will have electricity by 2007.

Lot of people have said all sort of things about our way of functioning. But I don’t care about any of these statements. I want to carry everyone along this path to peace and prosperity. History has put us in a position of responsibility. Together we can alter the future of this state. Together we can pull our people out from this unfortunate situation. Only then can we call ourselves successful.

And by "we" I don’t mean me or my party members, by "we" I mean every one of you people. We are nothing without you. We have to face this challenge together. People’s power is the biggest power. I am proud to say that today the presence of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in front of you is because of his workers.

In the end I would like to say that no division is acceptable to us on regional or religious lines. We are one, have been one and will be one forever. I thank you all for being here.

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