New Delhi: A day before members of the Union council of ministers reached Jammu and Kashmir as a part of the Centre’s outreach programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed them to refrain from making any political statements during their visit and focus only on connecting with the people to “make up for lost time”, according to a report in the Indian Express.
Ministers are scheduled to visit several districts of Jammu and Kashmir to spread awareness about government policies “particularly in the last five months after the abrogation of Article 370″.
In a letter sent to the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, minister of state for Home Affairs G. Krishan Reddy wrote that the minister would visit the Union territory for “disseminating information about the importance of the Government policies with regard to the overall development of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir”.
As per the outreach programme, ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the UT between January 18 and January 24.
According to sources quoted by the Indian Express, the prime minister has also asked ministers to stay overnight in the villages they are visiting instead of returning to Jammu or Srinagar.
“The PM specifically told the Ministers who will be visiting J&K that there should not be any political colour to the visit. The idea should not be to do politics but to connect with the people — youth, teachers, government officers — and try to win them over. He emphasised on winning hearts and minds so that the government can work with them to make up for lost time,” said sources present at the meeting to the newspaper.
The meeting was the latest in a series of meetings held with ministers and bureaucrats. Speaking with bureaucrats, the prime minister said that if all files in the government moved at the same pace as those pertaining to foreign visits, the government “would be in a good place”. The prime minister also suggested that the Statue of Unity be included among iconic tourism sites in the country and stressed on the importance of security in ease of doing business and tourism.
The meeting also noted the need to boost promotion of the tourism sector and heritage sites.
“The PM wanted the Statue of Unity to be included among the 17 iconic sites. Several Ministers suggested that they should schedule meetings with international dignitaries near the site in Kewadiya Colony (near Vadodara) to make the statue an international destination,” sources said.
According to a report in NDTV, there are 51 trips planned for Jammu, and only eight for Srinagar.
Upon visiting Jammu, Minister of State (MoS) in the prime minister’s office Jitendra Singh speaking about the dilution of Article 370, said, “People had to wait for this long because it had to happen under the aegis of a personality like Modi.” Singh later inaugurated a smart classroom and laid the foundation stone of a sports stadium at Gole Gujral, Marh, in Jammu.
Minister of State (MoS) Arjun Ram Meghwal, inaugurating a tubewell and drain protection wall at Birpur in Mandana of Samba, interacted with people and “listened to their development needs”,
The outreach initiative will also take stock of 55 beneficiary-oriented schemes, according to a report in The Hindu.