Pro-India camp divided on poll timing

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: While the ruling National Conference (NC) and BJP have sought to defer the elections in the state, Congress and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have virtually patched up in seeking elections on time.

A team of Election Commission of India (ECI) led by Deputy Election Commissioner, Vinod Zutshi, Thursday visited the Valley to get firsthand assessment report from political parties about the polls slated for the year-end in the aftermath of massive floods which hit Kashmir last month.
The team would submit its report before the ECI, which would accordingly decide about the timing of the elections.
“We told the visiting delegation that there should be no talk of polls at this stage. Our priority should be relief and rehabilitation of people, not elections,” NC’s general secretary and Minister of Rural development and Panchayati Raj Ali Mohammad Sagar told Kashmir Reader.
Sagar said the floods have caused massive destruction, and in such a situation, it’s not appropriate to hold polls. “Priority of each political party should be to rehabilitate the affected populace,” he said.
“People are main stakeholders in polls, but they are in distress. So how can we conduct polls? Once normalcy returns, let’s talk about elections then. Right now, government of India should fulfill its promise to state government for providing relief and rehabilitation,” Sagar said.
However, NC’s coalition partner Congress favoured holding elections in the state soon, saying that President’s rule would lead people to suffer. “Elections should be held on time. People are already burdened with problems and if Governor’s rule is implemented here, it will add to their woes. It would be in the interest of people to hold the polls on time. Let the elections be held first in the places which would be inaccessible later due to snow,” said State Congress’s vice-president and MLC G N Monga.
Chief opposition PDP too underscored the need of holding elections in the state. A two-member delegation led by the party general secretary Dilawar Mir and chief spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told the ECI team that elections have become “compulsion” in the aftermath of floods.
“In spite of floods and worsening situation, elections have become compulsion in the state. There shouldn’t be any escape from polls. To get rid of this incumbent government will give a major relief to people. The relief and rehabilitation is a daunting task and it needs a government which can get things done,” Akhtar told Kashmir Reader after meeting the delegation.
He alleged the government was “engaged in looting the relief material for flood affected people.”
“We gave an option of forming a team of senior officers from Centre and state to oversee the relief and rehabilitation till elections are held. It will eliminate politicization of relief as well and side by side get the elections conducted within a timeframe,” Akhtar said.
BJP’s Fayaz Ahmad Bhat said they told the ECI team that the priority should be to rehabilitate flood-hit flood and not elections.
“Right now, relief and rehabilitation work is going on. It’s not appropriate to conduct elections now. It will affect the entire relief work,” Fayaz told Kashmir Reader.