In 1999 when the Peoples Democratic Party PDP was formed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, it was better known as the coalition of individuals. Mufti who was known as a heavy political stalwart of Kashmir politics with a massive experience form local to national politics managed to bring the top politicians together and offered an alternative political platform to Kashmir.
PDP provided hope to the hapless people severely wounded by the two decades of insurgency. It managed to triumph in the maiden political inning of 2002, the first time in over two decades when the elections were free and fair and witnessed the substantial participation of people across the state, defeating boycott calls.
One of the party’s heavyweight political stalwart was Muzaffer Hussain Baig, a finest lawyer of North Kashmir who was elected from Baramulla constituency. Before that Baig unsuccessfully contested elections for over two decades from the same constituency.
Knowing his political acumen, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed gave major political responsibilities to him and was elected as Deputy Chief Minister of state after PDP-Congress government in state was formed.
He also retained the portfolio of Finance, Law and Parliamentary affairs.
While Baig remained in limelight for being furious political leader for his three years of term and envisaged major developmental projects for north Kashmir and especially Baramulla, his relations soared all time high with senior party leaders.
This ensured the first split when Ghualm Hassan Mir from Gulmarg constituency decided to part ways and formed his own Democratic Freedom Party.
Baig managed to dominate the show in party until tactfully late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed stripped him off politically in 2014 for putting him in for the Lok Sabha constituency from North Kashmir.
After Baig secured the seat from Baramulla his role was dramatically minimized in the party.
The hopes further dashed for the Baig when party decided to field Javid Hassan Baig for the Assembly segment Baramulla. Junior Baig was most trusted confidant of senior Baig and has served as his PRO besides worked at grass root level for the party. His association with the PDP is as old as senior Baig.
Baramulla constituency is the face of district and houses its district headquarter. Historically the town was the commercial hub and had a distinction of centre for international trade.
From silk route to pre partition times, the Jehum valley road passing through the mountains of Baramulla is what brought it to the fame at national and international level.
Even in present times, it is the only road which is functional and connects India with Pakistan via LoC Trade and Bus service to divided part of Kashmir (Muzaffarabad).
However, this is what was miserably overlooked by the successive regimes and PDP shares the major guilt. PDP is ruling the constituency since least 18 years and was totally unfair to it.
Its roads are bumpy, dusty and narrow. No proper drainage system. No parking lots and serves a complete example of chaos.
When the face of town is ugly there is no question to beat the drums of development in rural pockets. In rural pockets the developmental needs are majorly fulfilled with the centrally flagship schemes like MGNREGA, NRHM and many others.
But being insensitive to its major demands which needed a major financial push have not only failed its MLA in front of people in fact all those who trusted and voted for the party for all these years.
The Greater Baramulla plan- a major developmental package approved by Muzaffarer Hussain Baig when he was the deputy Chief Minster was also shelved. Though for its failure major blame goes to National Conference after it overlooked it during the previous regime, however the PDP after assuming power had an opportunity to revisit the scheme for the major facelift of town.
That didn’t happen and its development was merely based on the meager funding allocated to the CDF. It must have left the MLA frustrated.
Being the headquarter of one of the largest districts of state no party can afford to overlook Baramulla for its social, cultural and historical importance. So the time is high for PDP to restore the constituency to its actual position what it has been enjoying for centuries.
This was earlier published in print edition of ‘ The Legitimate’