The comment made by Prashant Bhushan, an eminent lawyer and founder-member of the AAP, that there ought to be a referendum on the presence of the Army in Jammu and Kashmir is highly irresponsible. Such a scenario is akin to suggesting that locals should decide on the deployment of paramilitary forces in Naxalite-affected regions. This process will amount to a total abdication of the state’s responsibility to maintain law and order and protect its citizens from extremist elements. Whether the armed forces stationed in J&K deserve the degree of protection that they currently enjoy is a matter of debate. But to call into question their very presence in the strife-torn region seems only to betray Mr. Bhushan’s ignorance.
Having begun to open up on national issues, the AAP is showing that it is too young to take on the reins of the nation. Our country is varied in culture and political ideologies, has been the victim of terrorist and secessionist activities, has regional parties indulging in vote-bank politics, and has cross-culture migration across the country, among other vagaries. A simple referendum cannot possibly be a solution to our complex problems. Unlike in the case of other smaller countries which can have different types of government, our national issues are humongous.
The AAP has a long way to go before it can enter the national mainstream. Let the party prove its credentials by effectively governing Delhi for five years, implementing the 17 points that their leader Arvind Kejriwal has listed out and initiate action against those indulging in corrupt practices in Delhi. The matter of governance is easier said than done.
Before nursing national ambitions and going on a membership drive, the AAP must clarify its stand on some important matters and offer consensus views that are shared by all in the party. What economic reforms are they mulling (they appear to have Leftist leanings in this regard) in terms of FDI in retail and civil nuclear energy? What is their stance on the Ayodhya issue and the harassment of fishermen near Kachchatheevu? What are their views on relations with the U.S.? What is the party’s game plan for solving the problems of farmers? How do they propose to go about resolving the Cauvery issue? Answers to these questions are essential for anyone planning to join or support the party. Only after there is clarity on these issues can the AAP aspire to contest in the Lok Sabha elections.
New Delhi Sino-India relations
This is with reference to the article “Deepening mutual trust” (Jan. 6) by Wei Wei, China’s ambassador to India. China and India are the world’s two most populous countries and home to a third of humanity. Both share many aspirations although they have followed very different paths in their separate pursuits of common goals.
Contrary to how the media portrays the matter, the two neighbours have displayed more cooperation in recent years both at shared and international fora. Both nations are major economic powerhouses, have burgeoning trade and are poised to play a dominant role in this century. There are many areas where they can share their expertise, such as in railway systems, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, information technology and academics. The Chinese ambassador’s wish to enhance ties in the new year is welcome, and India should respond positively to it.