The election commission of India’s decision to delay holding of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir “due to security reasons” came in for severe criticism from the state’s mainstream political parties on Sunday.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said the assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections but not in Jammu and Kashmir “due to security reasons”.
The Jammu and Kashmir assembly was dissolved in November last year, months after the Mehbooba Mufti-headed government in the state fell following the BJP’s withdrawal of support to it in June.
Arora said the election commission decided to announce the schedule for only LokSabha polls in J&K and not for the assembly elections due to “inputs it had received from authorities regarding constraint of availability of central forces for enforcing security in the wake of recent violence.”
Even the parliamentary election for the Anantnag LokSabha seat in the state is going to be held in three phases, he said.
National Conference leader and former state chief minister Omar Abdullah slammed withholding of assembly elections and criticised the Modi government.
“First time since 1996, assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership,” he tweeted.
“In light of the failure to conduct assembly elections on time in J&K, I’m re-tweeting my tweets from a few days ago. PM Modi has surrendered to Pakistan, to the militants and to the Hurriyat. Well done Modi sahib. 56-inch chest failed. #slowclap,” Abdullah wrote on twitter.
Omar said Modi’s “abject surrender to anti-India forces” is “a crying shame”.
“Balakote& Uri are not symbols of PM Modi’s handling of national security, J&K is and look at the mess he has made there. The abject surrender to anti-India forces is a crying shame,” he said.
Omar said in 2014, J&K had LokSabha elections on time and assembly elections on schedule even after the most-devastating floods, but delaying them now “shows how badly the BJP and earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K”.
“What happened to (union home minister) @rajnathsingh’s assurance to LokSabha and RajyaSabha as well as to the all-party meeting recently in Delhi that all forces would be made available for simultaneous polls?” he asked in another tweet.
Omar said he never thought Modi would be “willing to confess his failure” on a global stage by not conducting the assembly polls on time in J&K.
“With the amount of international attention elections in J&K attract I never thought PM Modi would be willing to confess his failure on a global stage but we all make mistakes and that was mine,” he said.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti slammed the decision to hold only parliamentary elections in J&K.
“Decision to hold only parliamentary elections in J&K confirms sinister designs of GoI (government of India). Not letting people elect a government is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. Also a tactic of buying time to disempower people by pushing an agenda that suits their ulterior motives,” she tweeted.
By delaying the assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the government of India has itself certified that the situation has “gone out of control” in the state and is “not conducive” for the elections, the J&K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said on Sunday.
Alleging that the BharatiyaJanata Party wants to “grab power” in J&K, Mir said it was “the golden chance” for the central government to hold the assembly elections in the state and give the people an elected government.
“All political parties were of the opinion that simultaneous elections should be held in the state, but the Centre has failed to hold the assembly elections citing ‘volatile’ situation. This is indicative of the Centre’s utter failure to respect the urges and aspirations of the people,” Mir said.
He said that during the Congress rule at the Centre, the elections were conducted in 2014 “despite an unfavourable situation in J&K that time”.
“Yet, the state experienced highest voter turnout. This time the polls were deferred due to mishandling of the situation by the central government,” he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader and former MLA, M Y Tarigami said the election commission’s decision has disappointed the people of the state in general.
“This was done despite that almost all the political parties had urged upon the Election Commission to hold both the elections simultaneously. Not holding assembly polls will send wrong signals to people within and outside the state,” he said.
He said 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 the LokSabha polls be held? Even the J&K governor recently said that Prime Minister NarendraModi 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?” Tarigami questioned.
He said that J&K is without an elected government for the past nine months and in the absence of an elected government, “uncertainty in the state is deepening” day-by-day and “dissatisfaction” among a large section of people is increasing. PTI