No dramatic change on cards in Kashmir, says Javadekar

Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar. PTI file photo

Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday dismissed the speculations over abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), saying there was no need to panic as security was beefed up and Amarnath Yatra was cancelled due to specific intelligence input on possible terror attack on the pilgrims.

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"No dramatic announcements are in mould. I think people should not worry more about it,” he told Prakash Kumar of DH in an interview. On the recent political developments in Karnataka, he categorically rejected the accusation that the BJP engineered defection of the Congress MLAs to topple the Congress-JD (S) government in the State, saying it had to collapse one day or the other because it was “never stable and organic in nature.” On the current state of the economy, the minister said there was no dangerous sign, asserting that it will pick up.

BJP has been accused of engineering defections to topple the Congress-JD (S) government in Karnataka. What is your response?

Absolutely rubbish. The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the people's verdict last year with just seven short of a majority. Therefore this hotchpotch government, which was never stable and organic in nature, had to collapse one day or the other. The controversies and contradictions surfaced very vividly and people came out of it on their own. They left the Congress and the JD (S). Therefore we have the government and we will run it very nicely in Karnataka in the next three and a half years. Our programme is to expand the BJP but it is certainly not to destabilise any government unless they lose the majority.

Do you think frequent incidents of mass defections of MLAs from one party to another call for a new law?

Legislation evolves over the years as per the necessity of the community. But as of today, I don't see any need to revisit our laws because they are made much stronger by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Is there a serious attempt to do away with Article 370 and 35 in J&K?

Speculations give a good chance to newspapers to write and speculate more. The fact of the matter is that there was a specific input of possible terror attack on Amarnath Yatris. As precautionary measure security has been beefed up and Yatra aborted. I think this is what happens. We should leave it to the wisdom of the government. People should not worry more about it. No dramatic announcements are in mould. The governor has also clarified that there is no cause for panic.

What is the government's Kashmir policy?

We have a definite policy of zero tolerance against terror. Kashmir is an integral part of India and it has every right to develop in all respect. We are giving equal importance to every body's right in the State and appropriate planning is being done for that. A huge change is emerging in J&K politics with our development initiatives. People in Kashmir are very happy and will be more happy with our development initiatives. I think the State should witness Assembly polls soon.

The economy is in the doldrums.

I don't think so. The entire world is witnessing a slowdown in the economy. Compared to 3% growth in the world economy year after year, we have maintained a robust growth rate of nearly 7%. Our internal demand is growing. We have Rs 100 lakh crore investment plan for public infrastructure creation. I think we are on the right track. Our economy is not showing any dangerous signs. But, there will always be cyclical impacts. And, I am very sure that it will pick up.

Will the government reconsider its decision to impose 10% customs duty on newsprint?

We have discussed it with the newspaper industry. We will have yet another meeting after the Budget Session to look at the issue in 360 degrees and see what is the best way out. By the month-end, we will have some news.

What are your priorities as the I&B minister?

As the I&B minister, I will ensure we have a robust vibrant democracy and vibrant press freedom. At the same time, I have to improve the viewership of 22 channels of the DD and make AIR more popular. We are an open government. always open for exchange of ideas and dialogue with media to sort out various problems.

On the contrary, the media has been barred from entering the Finance Ministry.

I will work on arriving at a solution to this issue.

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