No need for constitutional amendment to bring J&K under 'one nation, one election': BJP

Bharatiya Janata Party Friday said there was no need for an amendment to the Constitution of India for reducing the term of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly from six years to five for bringing about ‘One nation, One election’ currently under discussion in the country.

General Secretary of the party’s state unit Ashok Koul Friday said a simple voice vote in the Parliament was all that is need to apply a 1977 order issued in this regard by the then Prime Minister Murarji Desai.

Koul said that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s Government in the State immediately adopted the 42nd amendment of the Constitution under which the term of Parliament and State Assemblies was increased to six years by Indira Gandhi-led government.

“The same amendment, when reversed by the Morarji Desai government in 1977, was not adopted by Jammu and Kashmir Government as it did not suit the interests of NC leaders,” Koul said.

The BJP leader said that the six-year term of the State Assembly has been favouring the National Conference and other parties that have ruled J&K so far.

“When country is one, there has to be one system,” Koul said.

Asked whether the move to reduce the term of J&K State legislature amounts to further erosion of autonomy or the special status the State enjoys under Article 370, Koul said that a false impression was being created that the step to reduce the term of J&K Assembly was an attack on the state’s special status.

 “Those claiming it are actually misleading the masses. The fact is the ‘one nation, one election’ has nothing to do with the special status of J&K,” the BJP leader said.

 “Why a constitutional amendment, just a voice vote can put in vote the 1977 amendment ordered by Murarji Desai. Six-year term suited the then leaders when Indira Gandhi-led regime at the Centre announced the decision. But when same was reversed by Murarji Desai, feeling insure the NC didn’t apply the same. The fraud is evident.”

Koul claimed a major aim behind the synchronous elections move was to cut costs and travel of election observers and security forces.

“Election observers hardly get time to sit in their offices. Besides, when the elections to state Assemblies would be held across the country, the burden on the country’s exchequer would reduce automatically and the amount saved can be utilised in various developmental schemes,” the BJP leader said.

Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal, senior NC leader said the party has serious apprehensions and he stands by what his elder brother and the NC President Dr Farooq Abdullah has stated over the issue.

 “I endorse the views put forth by Farooq sahib on this issue. I would say that the move should not affect the federal structure of the country or the State,” Kamaal said.  “We strongly advocate that the move be examined thoroughly and deeply studied before any step is taken.”

Kamaal, however, trashed BJP’s claims that the move was aimed to cut the security expenditure and to minimize the travel of election observers.

“This is quite horrendous. It is the duty of the democratic country to ensure and hold elections in the states,” Kamaal said.