‘BJP is scared to hold polls; democracy is in suspended animation in J&K’.
SRINAGAR: Regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir have accused the BJP and the Central government of delaying elections as the Election Commission has extended the deadline from October of this year to 25 November. The extension of revision of electoral rolls has made the chances bleak for holding of elections during the current year.
The Election Commission has asked the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir to publish the final revised electoral rolls by 25 November. Former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah reacted sharply on twitter and said, “Complete dilution of Article 370, bifurcation and downgrading of J&K state, gerrymandering of constituencies through a tame delimitation commission, curtailing movement and activities of parties by revoking security & STILL, the BJP doesn’t have the guts to face voters of J&K.”
Earlier, the Election Commission had delayed the polls for the Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir due to security reasons. When all the political parties, except BJP, demanded Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously with parliamentary elections, the Election Commission of India said on 10 March 2019 that Assembly elections were not possible due to security reasons.
PAGD spokesperson and known communist leader in Jammu and Kashmir, M.Y. Tarigami also asked the BJP government to tell the people of the country why they were not holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the BJP government at the Centre is claiming that normalcy has returned to J&K and they have set right all the wrongs committed by the previous governments. He asked if that was true, why the central government is delaying Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tarigami said that it is the time for the BJP to explain to the people of the country the reasons behind not holding elections for so long in Jammu and Kashmir. It is in place to mention that there is no elected government in Jammu and Kashmir since June 2018 when the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti government and the Governor took over the reins of administration.
When the Delimitation Commission was announced for Jammu and Kashmir, the Union government said that it will complete the process within a year. The commission was given two extensions and it completed the report only in May this year.
The latest decision of EC to delay the revision of electoral rolls has upset all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, except the BJP. Even the J&K Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari has demanded early Assembly elections and restoration of statehood as the party has started a public outreach programme. Apni Party is regarded close to BJP by opponents like National Conference and PDP—they dub it as a “B team” of BJP.
People’s Conference senior leader and former legislator Nizam ud din Bhat said mainstream national political parties are silent over the conduct of the Election Commission in J&K. “It looks like all have connived to institutional disempowerment of the erstwhile state, now dependent on the whims of bureaucracy and security agencies.”
PDP spokesman Mohit Bhan said democracy continues to remain in suspended animation in J&K. “Elections are one of the tools of restoring democracy; even that tool isn’t restored in Jammu and Kashmir. All the democratic institutes are being bulldozed in the country, especially in J&K. On the one hand, the government claims to have restored normalcy in J&K in terms of militancy and, on the other hand, they are sceptical of conducting elections in the UT.”