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Jammu and Kashmir (J and K) Political Profile

About Jammu and Kashmir Politics : Poised for High-Stake Battle

Nurtured by the Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir is the northern-most state of India, consisting of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Since independence, both India and Pakistan have been locked in a political battle over Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir enjoys special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. As per this special privilege, the law enacted by the Parliament of India, except for those in the field of defence, communication and foreign policy, will not be extended to Jammu and Kashmir unless it is approved by Jammu and Kashmir state legislature. Jammu and Kashmir is again the only state to have its own official flag and Constitution and follow a six-year term instead of five as followed by the other states.

Political Set-up in J and K

The legislature of Jammu and Kashmir is bicameral in nature and consists of two houses – the Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir, which is the upper house and Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which is the lower house. The Legislative Assembly officially has 111 seats, but 24 seats fall under the disputed region of PoK, hence the contestable seats are only 87. The Legislative Council has 36 seats, whose members serve for a fixed period of six years.

The state sends six members to the Lok Sabha and four members to the Rajya Sabha. The major political parties in the state are National Conference (NC), Indian National Congress (INC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Jammu Kashmir People`s Democratic Party (JKPDP), Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.) The NC has been a dominant political party in the state and supports autonomy for Kashmir within the scope of the Indian Constitution.

Next Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir

The term of the current Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on January 19, 2015. The recent floods and heavy rains have caused heavy damages to the state infrastructure and rendered several thousands homeless. In such a scenario, it is going to be a mammoth task to hold elections in the state.

But the Election Commission has gone ahead with its decision to hold a five-phase election in Jammu and Kashmir between November 25 and December 20. Polling is scheduled to take place on November 25, December 2, 9, 14 and 20 in the state, while counting of votes will take place on December 23. Subsequent to the announcement of elections, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in the state.

Chief Ministers of J and K

Name: Omar Abdullah
Party: NC
Tenure: 2009 till now
Hailing from the politically influential Abdullah family, Omar Abdullah is the son of Farooq Abdullah and grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, both of whom have been the Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir. Omar joined politics in 1998 and was elected to the 12th Lok Sabha. Later, he was re-elected in the subsequent three elections that followed. He became a Union Minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001. In 2002, he took over as the president of National Conference (NC) from his father and in 2008 his party won the maximum number of seats in the state elections. In January 2009, his party forged an alliance with the Congress to form the government and he was sworn in as the Chief Minister.

Omar Abdullah is considered to be a young and dynamic leader. He has been instrumental in establishing institutions like the Vigilance Commission, State Information Commission and the State Accountability Commission.

In 2009, Omar Abdullah was accused of covering up the rape and murder of two young women in the state. Later, he was pulled up for his failure to control the Kishtwar clashes. In 2014, he has been accused of inept handling of the flood situation.

Name: Ghulam Nabi Azad
Party: Indian National Congress
Tenure: 2005-2008
A veteran Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad has served as the chief minister of the state as well as the Union Minister at the Centre. Azad began his political career as the Block Congress Committee secretary in Doda district. In 1980, he became the President of All India Youth Congress, the first from the minority community. In 1982, he became the Deputy Minister in charge of Law, Justice and Company Affairs at the Centre. In 1990, he went on to become a member of Rajya Sabha. In 2005, he became Chief Minister of the state. However, his plans to transfer land to a Hindu shrine board led to discord between Hindus and Muslims, culminating in his resignation. He then became the Health Minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre.

Azad is believed to have contributed significantly to the health sector in Jammu and Kashmir. Surveys predict that he is still a favourite among the chief ministerial candidates.

The sudden ouster of the Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary in 2014 is believed to have been undertaken under pressure from Azad. This ouster had led to widespread outrage. Again in 2014, he had claimed that there was no conclusive information that links high prevalence of respiratory or other diseases caused by air pollution in Delhi. Many environmentalists had contested this claim.

Name: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Party: People's Democratic Party
Tenure: 2002-2005
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was a member of the Indian National Congress. In 1987, he left the INC and joined V.P. Singh’s Jan Morcha and became the first Muslim Minister for Home Affairs at the Centre in 1989. In 1999, he formed the PDP along with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. In the 2002 assembly election, the PDP won 18 assembly seats and he became the Chief Minister of the coalition government, formed in alliance with the Indian National Congress.

Under his rule, it is believed that tourism was revived and colleges and universities were established in the state. The construction of international airport in Srinagar was also initiated, among other initiatives.

In 1989, when Sayeed was the Union Minister for Home Affairs, his daughter was kidnapped and five militants were exchanged to rescue her. This had led to widespread criticism. Besides this, there are allegations that he is involved in the Rs 1600 crore Marhama land scam.

J and K Economy
Over the years, the economic growth of the state has been steady. The state economy grew at 5.51 percent last year. As per the Economic Survey 2013-14, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has increased from Rs 65,758.52 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 75,574.31 crore in 2012-13, registering a growth of 14.93 percent. The state’s economy is mainly dependent on agriculture, tourism and allied activities but a growth momentum has been found in the construction sector, transport, communication, trade and hotels sector.

J and K Tourism
Tourism, especially in the Kashmir Valley, has always played a key role in the economy of the state. Owing to the insurgency that has intensified since 1989, the state has witnessed a dip in tourist activities. However, tourism still continues and the state receives a regular inflow of pilgrims and tourists – both from India and abroad. Like for instance in 2007, the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage is believed to have contributed Rs 4.75 billion to the state’s economy. But the recent floods suspended the tourist activities in the state, which are expected to revive soon.

Education in J and K
During the years 2001-2011, the literacy rate has increased from 55.52 percent to 67.16 percent. The dropout rate in the state has also reduced to 11 percent in 2012-13. In 2013, the Abdullah government had initiated a panel to develop the state’s own education policy that will focus on giving right to education to children from the age of four to 16 instead of the six to 14 years, as proposed by the Centre. It plans to bring about a new education policy that will focus on teaching multiple languages in the schools. The government is also focusing on training teachers.

Poverty in J and K
Poverty is one of the main issues and as per a survey conducted by the state in 2007-08, about 21.63 percent of the people live below poverty line. Most of the people do not have a comfortable lifestyle. It is imperative that poverty is alleviated and more job opportunities created to improve the living conditions of people in the state.

Jobs and employment in Jammu and Kashmir

Unemployment is a serious issue and has been a cause of concern in the state. As per the Economic Survey 2013-14, the population of the state in 2001 grew from 101.44 lakhs to 125.49 lakhs in 2011. Along with it, the number of workers registered also increased by 15.15 percent during the same period. According to the 2011 census, the total number of workers stood at 43.23 lakhs.

Health and Sanitation in J and K

As per the 2011 census, the life expectancy of males in the state was slotted at 66.5 years and females stood at 69.3 years. This is more than the national average. The crude birth rate in the state is 17.8 percent, while the death rate is at 5.5 percent.

The Rural Development Department of the state has launched a sanitation programme to provide unpolluted living environment and to improve health conditions of the people by increasing awareness around sanitation. Through this campaign, efforts are on to ensure toilets in every household through mass awareness and people are also being educated on the importance of having toilets at home and drinking safe and clean water.

Airports in J and K

Srinagar has an international airport and Jammu airport is also a very important airport in the state.

J and K Road and infrastructure

Road and infrastructure is constantly being upgraded. As per the Economic Survey 2013-14, out of the cumulative NABARD loan disbursement, about 79.48 percent has been set aside for roads and bridges. There are about 1667 road projects underway. Meanwhile, the longest rail tunnel in India was inaugurated in 2013 in Kashmir. The 11.2 kilometre tunnel connects Jammu and Kashmir, and eventually links Kashmir to the rest of India.

Women security and social security

The crime against women is supposed to have risen over the years in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2012, 303 rape cases were registered and in 2013, the number went up to 378. In 2011, the violence against women cases rose by 22.1 percent. In 2010-11, the J&K police had registered 4,066 cases of crimes against women, which included rape, gang rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry deaths, husband cruelty, suicide cases and immoral trafficking.

Crime rate in J and K

As per the National Crime Record Bureau report released in 2013, Jammu and Kashmir has the second highest crime rate in India. The report reveals that since Omar Abdullah took over as the Chief Minister, the crime rate has increased. In 2009, the state registered about 24,006 cases; in 2011 the number rose to 26,590. The situation was somewhat similar in 2012 when 26,558 cases were registered. These cases included murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, culpable homicide, molestation, robbery, forged currency, idol thefts and communal riots.
Last Updated on November 5, 2014