Don’t get distracted by ‘constitutional issues’, Jitendra Singh tells J&K

Jammu: In a veiled reference to the Jammu and Kashmir government’s concern over the Constitution’s Article 35A, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday said it should focus on addressing problems of the common man rather than get distracted by “constitutional issues”.

Addressing a programme organised to felicitate the government officials and social activists who had contributed to the conduct of the recently-concluded Amarnath Yatra, he said: “Our main focus should be on common man’s issues like regular power and water supply.

“These are the issues of priority for a common man, for whom all other issues, including the ‘constitutional issues’ come much later.”

Referring to the din created by opposition parties in J&K over Article 35A, the Minister of State in the PMO said the opposition has the privilege to rake up contentious issues, but it is for the government not to get distracted by opposition’s machinations and instead, focus wholeheartedly on providing day-to-day amenities to the common man.

Citing the “experience of some of India’s best governed states like Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh”, he said it has been seen that if the common people are “convinced that their needs of daily requirements, development and livelihood are being addressed with honesty and fairness, all other issues are pushed tothe background and become irrelevant”.

He acknowledged that there are ideological differences between the two ruling parties, his Bharatiya Janata Party and the Peoples Democratic Party, but said that the common pledge was not to get distracted by these and instead to fully focus on providing to Jammu and Kashmir the benefits of Narendra Modi government’s enormous new progressive schemes which the other states are availing of and which are particularly aimed at providing future avenues to the youth.

He said the central government under Modi is committed to give equitable attention to all the three regions of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir, and it is up to the state’s people to make the best use of this opportunity.

Referring to some recent competitive exams, Singh said while at least 9 students from Kashmir Valley made it to the IIT this year, for the last few years, students from Kashmir Valley figure among the toppers of Civil Services exam.

“It is time for the youth of Jammu also to make the best use of the avenues and opportunities provided by the Modi Government. There is no time to continue bemoaning on the injustice meted out in the past or to be intimidated by a defeatist mindset,” he said.

The PDP and the BJP have differing stands on Article 35A that empowers the state legislature to define permanent residents of J&K and their privileges, with the former committed to safeguard the article, and the latter for uniform privileges for all Indian citizens.