Opposition demands early assembly elections in J&K

Opposition demands early assembly elections in J&K

Amit Shah moves bill in Rajya Sabha to extend President’s Rule

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused the BJP-led central government of “betraying” the people of Jammu and Kashmir by imposing President’s Rule in the state and demanded early assembly elections there.
Initiating the debate on statutory resolution to extend President’s rule, Congress member Viplove Thakur questioned why assembly elections were not held in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls.
She said that the centre was only citing Amarnath Yatra and other religious activities as an excuse for not conducting the election.
“Why can’t you clearly say that ‘our motive has not been fulfilled’,” she said.
“People of J-K want to join mainstream,” Thakur said, and alleged that the centre was misleading the people of J-K as well as the House by saying that no party was in a position to form government in the state.
“Keep democracy alive. Do not divide Jammu and Kashmir. Preserve unity of this country,” she urged.
Rakesh Sinha (nominated member by the BJP) said the issue was of national importance and should not be seen through a political prism.
Countering Thakur, he said if the Congress had valued democracy, situation in J-K would have been different.
Sinha refuted the charge of creating division between Jammu and Kashmir, and said the BJP-led central government believes in ‘one people, one nation’.
He accused the Congress of doing politics of polarisation in the state.
Sinha said that Jammu was not given due representation in the state and cited the less number of assembly and parliamentary seats from the region despite having larger population and area than Kashmir.
He also spoke about “injustice” to people belonging to Valmiki community in government jobs.
Bills to extend President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir and to provide reservation for people living along the international border were taken up jointly for debate by the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The bills had been approved by the Lok Sabha on Friday.
The Centre had no option but to extend President’s Rule for six months as the Election Commission intends to hold assembly polls in J&K towards the end of the year, Home Minister Amit Shah told Rajya Sabha on Monday as he moved a statutory resolution in this regard.
“After assessing the current situation, including security and religious activities, the Election Commission has decided to hold election in Jammu and Kashmir towards the end of this year. The government did not have any option but to bring this resolution,” Shah said in the Upper House.
With the opposition questioning the delay in holding assembly polls, Shah said assembly elections were never conducted in the past in the state during the month of Ramzan, which was from May 7 to June 4 this year.
He also cited the Amarnath Yatra from June 30 to August 15 and said the Bakarwal community also moves to higher reaches during this time and returns only in October.
The Home Minister on Monday also moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.
People living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in professional courses on a par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC).
The minister said that reservation will benefit about 3.5 lakh people living in 435 villages of the three districts — Kathua, Samba and Jammu.
Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said that President’s Rule was imposed in a hurry and efforts should have been made to form an alternative government.
Yadav said the BJP made a mistake in supporting the PDP in forming the government in the state.
He said the BJP-PDP coalition was “unnatural and bound to fail” and, in lighter vein, equated it with his party’s recent alliance with the BSP in the general elections.
AIADMK member SR Balasubramaniam said there should be central rule till election is held in the state. However, he questioned why assembly polls were not held with the general elections.
CPI’s D Raja criticised the government for taking the Ordinance route on reservation issue and favoured referring the bills to a Standing Committee or Select Committee of Parliament.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien also questioned why assembly elections were not held along with Lok Sabha polls when the Prime Minister himself favours ‘one nation, one election’.
CPM leader KK Ragesh alleged that the government wanted to divide people on communal lines for its petty politics and opposed both the bills.
“Alienation will not help to deal with the problem of terrorism in the state. If you can conducts the Lok Sabha elections in state then why cannot the state elections be held simultaneously?” he asked.
He claimed that instances of terror attacks, ceasefire violations, civilians and security personnel causalities and youth joining terrorism in the state had increased during the BJP-led NDA rule from 2014 to 2019.
Supporting both the bills, Prasanna Acharya (BJP) said, “We cannot go on discriminating… But my only concern is that whether the bill (on reservation) approved by Parliament would be ratified later by elected state government.”
Supporting the bill, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JDU), Manoj Jha (RJD), Swapan Dasgupta (nominated) and Nazir Ahmed Laway (J&K PDP) also participated in the discussion.
PTI