Meghwal, Choubey, Dr Jitendra Singh arrive at Jammu to start outreach programme on Art 370 nullification

JAMMU: Three Union Ministers on Saturday reached here to kick-start a week-long massive awareness of the Centre to apprise people of the potential benefits of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir''s special status after nullification of Article 370, officials said.

The ministers -- Arjun Meghwal, Ashwini Choubey and Dr Jitendra Singh -- were scheduled to reach here in the morning but their flight could not land here due to "poor visibility" due to fog and was diverted to Srinagar, they said.

After waiting for several hours in Srinagar, the ministers finally reached Jammu this evening to launch the awareness programme under which a total of 36 Union ministers will visit different parts of the Union territory to interact with people during the next six days.

As part of the programme, the 36 ministers are visiting J&K this week to participate in 60 public interactions at various places in the Union territory," Principal Secretary to the J&K government Rohit Kansal told reporters here.

Kansal, who is also the government spokesperson, said the visiting ministers would interact with people and speak to them on the theme of development.

He said the administration has decided to ensure 100 percent coverage for the eligible J&K residents to 55 beneficiaries oriented schemes in the Union territory.

"In addition, the focus will be on rapid infrastructure development, the implementation of the Prime Ministers Development Package (PMDP), flagship schemes, iconic projects, good governance, rule of law, equal opportunities to all, rapid industrial growth with employment and rapid economic growth in all sectors of the economy with a special focus on income enhancement for all," he said.

Reacting to the outreach programme from January 18 to 24, J&K National Panthers Party chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh questioned as to how such a "collective march" of Central ministers was would benefit people of the new UT.

"The macabre drama appeared to have been conceptualized as a political fire cracker ahead of the elections by the BJP to whip up hysteria in its favour. It''s the last roll of the dice by the saffron party ahead of elections," he told reporters here.

He said after failing to live up to the people''s expectations, the government was resorting to "gimmicks and ministerial shows" which would meet the same fate as its earlier drama of "Back to Village" programme.

"It is a publicity stunt, a pressure tactics, a holy hypocrisy and a survival mantra in the face of fast dissipating credibility of the BJP which wants to bring almost half of the central ministers to disseminate its political philosophy at the cost of public exchequer without analyzing the financial fallouts of such gigantic roller coaster exercise upon a cash-starved UT like J&K," he said.

Accusing the BJP leadership of indulging in "theatrics and tantrums to woo voters", Singh said the people of J&K could no longer be "seduced by pomp and show" of such ministerial functions.

"No gimmickry could now beguile them. They were fast realising that J&K was being used as an electoral trump card by saffron party to brighten its prospects in elections across the country," he said, adding slogans like Article 370 were being used to promote the party in other parts of the country without addressing the genuine concerns of the people of J&K post reorganization.

"The Centre has failed to come up with a law on domicile so as to protect the jobs and lands of locals despite its loud pronouncements. The internet services continued to be blocked despite categorical directives of the Supreme Court to review the gag order," the NPP leader said.

He said rather than visiting the Union Territory to fulfil their urge for "photogenic teleshoots", the BJP leadership might as well restore the civil liberties and other democratic rights of the people of J&K who are bearing the brunt of a "dictatorial, authoritarian" regime.

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PTI