Jammu: A delegation of opposition parties of J&K led by National Conference (NC) president and MP Dr Farooq Abdullah Thursday met the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India Rajiv Kumar and demanded early assembly elections in the Union Territory.
While apprising the CEC of J&K situation, the delegation also submitted a memorandum to him. Besides the J&K delegation, the memorandum was also signed by the prominent opposition leaders of national parties.
Prior to the meeting with the ECI, the J&K delegation met the (national) opposition leaders at the Constitutional Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi and apprised them of the current J&K situation and sought their help in the restoration of statehood and early assembly elections in the UT.
“We have apprised the CEC that the elections have not been conducted in J&K for the past five years. It is without assembly hence there is no elected government in place. When the government is claiming that normalcy has been restored in J&K then why it is shirking from holding assembly elections. ECI is under constitutional obligation to hold elections so why is it not taking into account the suffering of J&K masses. CEC has assured us to hold a meeting soon to discuss this issue,” former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah told media persons in the union capital after meeting the CEC.
Immediately after the meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma stated, “(We) just met the Election Commission of India at Nirvachan Sadan Delhi today led by Dr Farooq Abdullah and sought immediate assembly elections.”
AAP leader from J&K T S Tony informed the media that before meeting CEC, the delegation also discussed the issues of J&K with the prominent (national) opposition leaders and got the memorandum signed by them as a mark of their solidarity for the cause of J&K.
In the memorandum to ECI, the delegation pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir “was without a Legislative Assembly and an elected government for the last five years.”
“The Panchayat elections and elections to other Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) cannot be a substitute to legislative assembly elections and the government and for that matter, the ECI cannot avoid and delay assembly elections on that ground,” it said.
“Had it been so, there would be no need to conduct assembly elections in states, that the ECI is with due dispatch and punctuality, as is evident from the recently held assembly elections in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland and the elections scheduled to be held in Karnataka. In each case the argument though, inherently specious, could have been that as PRIs were in place there was no need to hold assembly elections,” the delegation further pointed out.
“The Election Commission of India is under a constitutional obligation to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and delay in and denial of assembly elections would amount to denial of fundamental and democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and a breach of constitutional obligations,” they stated in the memorandum.
“We, the signatories to the memorandum representing different political parties of the Jammu and Kashmir and various national political parties implore and request the Election Commission of India to announce the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir without any further delay and notify the election schedule so that the democratic rights of the people of the Jammu and Kashmir and access to democratic institutions is restored,” the memorandum read.
Signatories to the statement included Dr Farooq Abdullah, president J&K NC, Mallikarjun Kharge MP and Indian National Congress president, Prof Manoj Kumar Jha MP RJD, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav MP (Rajya Sabha Samajwadi Party, T R Baalu MP DMK, Sharad Pawar Indian Nationalist Congress supremo, Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M), Sanjay Singh AAP MP, P Sandosh Kumar MP CPI, Syed Azeez Pasha ex MP CPI, Justice Hasnain Masoodi NC MP, Ravinder Sharma JKPCC chief spokesperson, Harsh Dev Singh of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, Taranjit Singh Tony of Aam Aadmi Party, Rattan Lal Gupta of National Conference, former minister and president Dogra Sadar Sabha Gulchain Singh Charak, Amrik Singh Reen, general secretary Peoples Democratic Party, Muzaffar Shah of ANC, Sunil Dimple president Mission Statehood, Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee, I D Khajuria, Gangan Pratap Singh and Manish Sahni.