PDP demands setting up of RC, elected head of state in J

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Srinagar, Oct 25 (UNI) Without opening its cards on the ensuing Assembly election participation, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today demanded the setting up of a Regional Council (RC) of greater Jammu and Kashmir, elected governor and non-application of Article 356 of the Constitution in the state.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said that the centre piece of the governance structure under self-rule is the cross border institution of the Regional Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir (RCGJK).

The RCGJK will replace the existing Upper House of the State Assembly, and will be a kind of regional senate, he said, adding that the members of the Council will be from this part of the state as well as from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PoK). At present, the State Assembly holds 20 seats for representatives from across the Line of Control (LoC). These will be given up and replaced by the same number of seats in the Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir.

He said this will serve as a major cross-border institution, which will ensure long-term coordination of matters and interest relating to the state.

Moreover, such an institutional structure will provide a framework within which certain matters between the two parts of the State and their respective mainland, that need to be sorted out to infuse in people a sense of empowerment and a feeling of belonging, will be addressed. This will require devising an improved constitutional, political and economic relationship between the two parts of the State and their respective mainlands.

In order to empower various sub-regions within Jammu and Kashmir, a tier of sub-regional councils, will be added to the domestic legislative structure. While Parliament will have representations to the sovereign, the State Assembly will continue to be a sub-national institution, the sub-regional councils will complete representative character of governance by bringing in the territorial representation.

Self-rule cannot exist without adequate constitutional safeguards. As the Constitutional position stands today, Article 356, undermines the core of self-rule and has to be made non-applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. In a similar vein, Article 249, applied to the State in amended form, should be rolled back so that Parliament cannot exercise legislative jurisdiction over a matter that, otherwise, falls under the State jurisdiction, a self-0rule document released by Mr Sayeed said.

It is a part of the design of self-rule that the Head of the State (Governor) be elected from the regions of Jammu and Kashmir by rotation. This shall give the people of all the regions an equal and equitable sense and feeling of empowerment and shall strengthen their bonds.

He said Jammu and Kashmir enjoys special powers in the Constitution at the time of accession. We had Sadar-e-Riyasat (president). The head of the state should be an elected person, he said, adding, ''We can rotate it after every six years between Kashmir and Jammu.'' MORE UNI BAS SBC RL KP1737

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