The BJP leadership of Jammu and Kashmir needs to learn from the mistakes made during the first phase of coalition government when Mufti Mohd Sayeed was alive and CM of the state. The party needs to focus on completing various pending infrastructure projects in Jammu on priority. The expansion of roads, upgrading of power infrastructure, completion of the historic ropeway between Mubarak Mandi and Bahu fort, the long delayed lake project on the sides of River Tawi are crying for the attention of the government.
It is true that BJP high command has directed the local BJP leadership to work in close cooperation with Mehbooba Mufti, and her party PDP that means that state party leadership would not be able to strongly take up issues that rankle the heart and soul of Jammu region. There prevails gross discrimination against the people of Jammu in terms of resource allocation, creation of jobs, setting up engineering and medical institutes that are being sponsored by the central government.
While the Kashmir centric parties and media have managed to influence the Agenda of Alliance in their favour but ministers and legislators from Jammu should put pressure on government, their own departments to ensure development happens in Jammu.
The Tawi Lake project in the heart of the city could be a test for the coalition government as well the Jammu leadership to prove that they are sincere towards the cause of this region, and believe in equal development. This project has been languishing since 2010 and had caused massive controversy when the former CM late Mufti Mohd Sayeed had expressed reservations over the viability of this project.
Tawi lake project is crucial for saving the river as well because Sewage Treatment Plants would be installed to treat sewage from Gujjar Nagar, Jogi Gate, Gorkha Nagar and other parts of the Old City. The treated water would be stored in the proposed lake that had to be completed by March 2016 but it is unlikely that this project would be completed even now.
Almost 95 per cent of the project has been completed but the lake has remained stuck, officials said because of the reluctance of the previous state governments to complete it. Despite centre providing 90 per cent funding the works has remained stalled due to political brinkmanship of the Kashmiri leadership which wants all development across the Banihal tunnel.
In a scenario, where BJP has to keep low with regard to several issues, it would be important to focus on delivering on promises of development. Completion of the Tawi Lake project as well as the restoration of Mubarak Mandi complex would be important to send the message that BJP is capable of meeting the PDP challenge.