Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir can be held anytime after the Election Commission (EC) gives its go ahead, denying accusations that his government was scuttling the democratic process in the state.
Shah also blamed the Congress and former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the troubles in the Valley.
“Everyone is asking about when are elections going to be held in Jammu and Kashmir. Elections are going to be held by the Election Commission. The Centre has no interference in this. The Congress used to once run the EC. We don’t do that… The day EC gives a go ahead, we will not waste a second in holding the elections,” Shah said.
He also said that the J&K Assembly elections couldn’t be held along the Lok Sabha polls in the state as holding them together would have meant providing protection to each and every candidate and that was not possible as the forces were spread thin across the country.
Dismissing accusations that the BJP government in the Centre was “throttling” democracy in J&K, Shah said, “We imposed President’s rule in Kashmir due to a special situation. In this country, Article 356 has been used 133 times. Of these, 93 times it has been used by the Congress. You will teach us democracy? To meet your political ends, you have dismissed scores of elected governments within a day. We have never done it for political purposes.”
The Home Minister said his government was absolutely pro-democracy in Kashmir and an example of the same was the peaceful completion of the Panchayat elections in the state, which elected 40,000 Panchs and Sarpanchs.
“Earlier, just three families would win all elections in Kashmir from Panchayat to Assembly…We conducted elections and today 40,000 Panchs and Sarpanchs are developing their areas with full rights… They say we are not in control of the Kashmir situation. We have seen so much bloodletting in elections earlier. But when we conducted Panchayat elections, not a drop of blood was spilled,” Shah said.
He also blamed the “historical blunders” of the Congress government for the trust deficit between Delhi and Srinagar.
“Who was responsible for Partition? We have always believed the country should not be divided on the basis of religion. Today one third of Jammu and Kashmir is not part of India. Who is responsible? You talk of not taking stakeholders into confidence over Kashmir. When our forces chased away Pakistani invaders up to the Line of Control, who decided to announce ceasefire? Nehru did not even take (then home minister Sardar Vallabbhai) Patel into confidence,” Shah said.
“Had Nehru taken Patel into confidence, PoK would have been a part of India and terrorism would have been obliterated from its roots,” Shah said.
He said India could not win the trust of Kashmiris because no efforts were made in that direction. “In 1931, the Muslim Conference was formed under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. And you put all the eggs in one basket. Abdullah eventually ran away with the basket,” Shah said.
The home minister then recounted how Abdullah was later put in jail and bogus elections were held in 1957, 1962 and 1967. “This was a joke on democracy. And this is where we lost the trust of the people,” he said.
Shah said his government was committed to the three principles of Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat to resolve the Kashmir issue. He said government’s commitment to Insaniyat was reflected in government benefits reaching the people, Jamhooriyat was reflected in peaceful completion of Panchayat elections, but asked if Kashmiriyat meant bloodletting.
“Where are the Sufis of Kashmir? Who drove out Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley? …Yet we will not let Kashmiriyat be diluted,” he said.
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