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J&K: Parties Slam BJP for "Unnecessary" Delay in Holding Elections in the State

Anees Zargar |
Response comes after Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly took decision to defer polls until Parliamentary elections expected to be held in mid-2024.
Omar Abdullah

Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: The former Chief Minister and vice-president of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), Omar Abdullah, on Thursday said that everyone, including all the political parties and the people of J&K, want elections to be held in the region. 

Talking to reporters in Srinagar, Abdullah also alleged that only the Lieutenant Governor (LG)and a few of the officers in the administration do not want the elections to be held as he slammed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for failing to initiate the electoral process. 

Abdullah’s response came after the Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly took the decision to defer polls until the Parliamentary elections expected to be held in mid-2024.

“If you stop anyone on the road and ask them about the elections...I am not saying that they will all vote for the NC; they may vote for different parties, but everyone wants the elections to be held,” Abdullah said.  

"We have been saying from day one that the BJP is not in the mood to hold polls because they know that people will reply befittingly to them not only in Kashmir but also in Jammu region in the elections," Abdullah added.

J&K has been without an elected government since 2018 when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-BJP government fell in the erstwhile state. On August 5, 2019, the central government abrogated Articles 370 and 35 A, J&K was downsized into two union territories, and the region came under the LG administration. The parties have since been demanding the return of the erstwhile status, statehood and the electoral process. 

For over a month, the regional parties, expecting that the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayat elections would be announced in October, were preparing and campaigning for the polls until their postponement was reported. 

“People are desperate for the elections. We were preparing for the ULB polls, and our workers were in the field. Each person we met expressed that the elections are held, and the democracy is restored so that they can turn to someone for their problems and issues,” NC’s provincial president women’s wing Sabiya Qadri said. 

The National Conference president, Farooq Abdullah, has also called for a meeting of all the opposition leaders in Jammu on October 3, where a decision regarding the future course of action will likely be taken.  

"The opposition leaders will meet and discuss the prevailing uncertain political situation of J&K," Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, the BJP national general secretary and in charge of J&K Tarun Chugh, in a statement, raised questions on the Jammu meeting seeking answers on why parties led by Sajad Lone, Altaf Bukhari and Ghulam Nabi Azad were not invited.  

“All the allegations by the opposition do not hold any value,” he was quoted as saying. 

In Jammu, considered a bastion of the BJP, several leaders, including their former allies, have questioned the party’s role, alleging that they have been responsible for ignoring the demands of the locals. 

During a bike rally organised by the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) earlier this week in Jammu’s Kathua, the party leader, Choudhary Lal Singh, lashed out at the BJP for its “reluctance” to hold polls. 

“The restlessness and the sufferings which the people of Jammu province are suffering for the last so many years and more particularly in the post abrogation 370 period evidently speak of the apathy of this regime. This regime has failed on every front and ignored the popular sentiment and eaten up the vitals of Dogras,” Singh said. 

The people in the Kargil division of Ladakh UT, however, are likely to participate in the electoral process for the first time since 2019 as the elections for the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, will be held on October 4. The NC and Congress parties are in the fray against the BJP, while the PDP stayed away from the contest. 

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