Wahid Bhat | SRINAGAR
The Election Commission of India (EC) Sunday announced that the Assembly elections in the state of Jammu & Kashmir will not be held with the Lok Sabha elections 2019 scheduled to begin from Aprill 11.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that considering constraint of availability of central forces, other logistics and recent incidents of violence, the EC has decided to hold only Parliamentary polls in J-K.
“The Commission has been constantly accessing the prevailing condition in the state. Based on input, the constraint of availability of central forces and other logistics, the requirement of forces for security of candidates in wake of recent violence and keeping other challenges in mind EC has decided at this stage to announce only schedule of Parliament election in J&K,” CEC Sunil Arora said in a press conference at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan.
While responding to a question about the assembly elections never being delayed since mid-1990s due to security concerns in the valley, the CEC said, “Central forces are definitely a big issue and one cannot disregard the recent developments. The commission ultimately doesn’t capitulate to anybody and at the same time commission cannot be non-cognizant of the situations on the ground.”
“Since 1996 and 1997, in many states now, the requirement of Central Forces has not decreased in any state. The requirement has not remained static,” he added.
Arora also outlined the commission’s measure of appointing the three observers to monitor the situation and said that the commission will try and conduct elections “as soon as the ground situation allows
“The Commission has conducted several rounds of meeting with state administration as well as MHA secretary. In the totality of these views, the commission has decided at this stage to announce only the schedule of the parliament election,” he said.
Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir parties criticised the decision not to announce state poll dates, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and accused him of “surrendering” to Pakistan and militants to prevent the announcement of dates of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Abdullah questioned Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in Parliament earlier this year about the Centre’s readiness to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir along with the General Elections. “What happened to Rajnath Singh’s assurance to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as well as to the all-party meeting held recently in Delhi that all forces would be made available for simultaneous polls?” Abdullah asked.
“Prime Minister Modi has surrendered to Pakistan, to the militants and to the Hurriyat,” Abdullah tweeted. “Well done Modi Sahib. 56-inch chest failed.”
Abdullah said Modi has made a mess of the situation in Kashmir. “In 2014 we had the Lok Sabha elections on time and the Assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods,” he tweeted. “Shows how badly the BJP and earlier the Bharatiya Janata Party-Peoples Democratic Party mishandled Jammu and Kashmir.”
“Balakote and Uri are not symbols of PM Modi’s handling of national security,” Abdullah said while referring to the Indian armed forces strikes across the Line of Control. “Jammu and Kashmir is and look at the mess he has made there. The abject surrender to anti-India forces is a crying shame.”
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said the decision to not announce Assembly election dates is a sign of the Union government’s “sinister designs”. “Not letting people elect a government is antithetical to the very idea of democracy,” she tweeted. “It is also a tactic of buying time to dis-empower people by pushing an agenda that suits their ulterior motives.”
She said that delaying the conduction of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir is tantamount to denying basic rights of the people of the state to have a popular government. “It is very dangerous to keep the state in the hands of unelected representatives of the centre. It will further complicate the problems in the state and the decision taken by Election Commission needs an immediate review,” Mehbooba said in a statement.
Jammu and Kashmir, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President G. A. Mir said that tall claims of centre Govt with regard to J&K situation stands exposed.
G. A. Mir said that it was the golden chance for Centre Govt to hold election in order to give an elected Govt to people, besides all the political parties were of the opinion that simultaneously elections should be held in the State, but the Centre has once again failed to hold Assembly Elections citing the reason as volatile situation which is indicative of utter failure of centre to respect the urges and aspirations of People, G. A. Mir added.
He said during UPA Rule the election were conducted in 2014 despite the unfavourable situation, but the State experienced highest poll percentage, this time the polls were again deferred due to the mishandling of the situations on the part of Centre Govt. Mir said.
Governor’s rule was imposed in the state in June 2018 with the collapse of the ruling coalition of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Peoples Democratic Party. Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state Assembly on November 21, 2018, and upon completion of six months of governor’s rule, president’s rule was imposed.
Another Congress leader Kadfeen Choudhary said that ECI decision of not to hold assembly elections in Kashmir, questioning that if state is prepared for LS polls, why not to the assembly elections.
Reacting to the announcement made by ECI on Sunday, Kadfeen said that the decision to delay the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir has disheartened the people all across the state and has raised the suspension among the people about the democratic exercise.
CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that Assembly polls would not be held in Jammu and Kashmir with Parliament polls has disappointed the people of the state in general.
The Chief Election Commissioner during his presser in New Delhi repeatedly quoted recent incidents of violence in Kashmir as the reason for not holding Assembly polls.
If that is true, then how could be Lok Sabha polls be held? Even the J&K Governor recently said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented him for “successful” conduct of the civic elections in Jammu and Kashmir. When these polls could be held, what is the logic for deferring Assembly polls?
Jammu and Kashmir will vote in the Lok Sabha elections in five phases on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29 and May 6.