The mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday questioned the Election Commission’s decision to not hold simultaneous Assembly elections in the state.
“…PM Modi has surrendered to Pakistan, to the militants & to the Hurriyat. Well done Modi Sahib. 56 inch chest failed,” tweeted former Chief Minister and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah. “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 a series of tweets, he blamed the central government for “mishandling” the situation in the state. “In 2014, we had Lok Sabha elections on time & assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K,” he said. “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. 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…”
Why simultaneous polls are not being held in J&K
The decision to not hold the J&K Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha polls is not extraordinary. In fact, since 1967, the state has never held simultaneous polls. Only in 1977, 1996 and 2014, they were held the same year, but even then not simultaneously. The main reason behind this is availability of adequate security forces. In J&K, not only does the EC need security personnel deployed at polling booths, but it also provides security to each and every candidate contesting the elections. It’s difficult to spare forces for this when a large number is already deployed across the country for ensuring free and fair Lok Sabha polls.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Decision to hold only parliamentary elections in J&K confirms sinister designs of GoI. Not letting people elect a government is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. Also a tactic of buying time to dis-empower people by pushing an agenda that suits their ulterior motives.”
“For the first time, we are seeing that elections in a single parliamentary constituency would be held in three phases,” state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir told The Indian Express. “For five years, Modi Sahib used to tell us that he has improved the (security) situation in Kashmir. But today he has handed a certificate to himself that in five years Kashmir has reached the worst security situation where elections couldn’t be held”.
Earlier this month, a team headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora met party leaders as well as the civil and security establishment in the state. Arora had then said that all the political parties favoured simultaneous polls.