Jammu: The BJP in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday slammed the NC, PDP and others for raking up the issue of inclusion of non-local voters in the revised electoral rolls and alleged they were spreading propaganda to disturb the peace in the Union Territory.
The saffron party’s reaction came as National Conference president Farooq Abdullah held a meeting in Srinagar, where nine parties vowed to oppose by all means, including in court, any decision to include “non-locals” in electoral rolls.
As the war of words between the two sides intensified, activists of PDP held a demonstration here against alleged attempts by BJP to import votes while Rashtriya Bajrang Dal torched an effigy of Abdullah during a protest.
Addressing a press conference, BJP’s J-K unit president Ravinder Raina said there was no issue of “locals or non-locals” as the Constitution gives the right to every citizen to vote after attaining the age of 18.
The Representation of the People Act was implemented across the country in 1950 and was extended to J-K after the abrogation of Article 370 (in August 2019). The revision of electoral rolls is taking place in accordance with the Act, the BJP leader said.
He was speaking after chairing a meeting of senior BJP leaders at party headquarters here to chalk out a counter-strategy in the wake of the meeting convened by Abdullah.
The meeting, called by the NC, was attended by Congress, PDP, Awami National Conference (ANC), Shiv Sena, CPI, CPI(M), JDU and the Akali Dal Mann. However, Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference and Altaf Bukhar’s Apni Party stayed away.
Raina said Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also answerable to the country after her party leaders took part in the meeting as the Act was implemented by the Congress in 1950.
There is no justification for their misleading propaganda. When PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed can fight and win elections from Uttar Pradesh and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is elected from Maharashtra, there was no uproar at that time.
“How can they oppose those who are living here for decades and were deprived of their rights during their rule over the past 70 years? he said, adding the BJP will launch an awareness campaign on the issue.
Sayeed, who is the father of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, had won from Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat in UP in 1989. Azad became a member of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra in 1984.
On allegations that it was an attempt by the BJP to increase its voters, Raina said his party does not need bogus voters as we will achieve our goal of 50 plus (assembly seats) with the support of J&K residents who are satisfied with the functioning of the party.
Referring to West Pakistani refugees, Gorkhas and Valmikis who got voting rights in local elections after the abrogation of Article 370, he said they are getting the chance to register themselves as voters for the first time in 70 years because they were earlier denied the right by these parties.
Our people who are living in different parts of the country are enlisted as voters there but nobody has any objection.
“Farooq Abdullah himself was a union minister, a chief minister, and even his name was recently proposed for the post of president by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and he was happy about it, he said.
He said Abdullah should stay away from such propaganda as he is a citizen of the country.
Continuing his tirade against the NC, Congress and PDP, he alleged, “They have come together under a conspiracy to mislead the public and disturb the peace.
“They have always done their politics over the dead bodies. They are anti-people and least bothered about the prosperity and development of J&K which is taking place at a fast pace under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They have enjoyed power only because of boycott politics with the support of separatists and Pakistan. They want a return to bomb attacks, stone pelting and strikes, he alleged.
However, Raina said the people are fully aware of their conspiracies and will not allow them to do politics of division and hatred.
We will also stand like a rock and will launch a massive awareness campaign against their misleading propaganda aimed at poisoning the minds of the people, he said.
Raina said the people of J-K have shown that they love their country when they hoisted the tricolour at their homes to mark the completion of 75 years of independence.
Amid the two meetings in the twin capitals, activists of PDP came out from their party headquarters at Gandhi Nagar here and tried to take out a march towards the office of the State Election Commission.
However, they were stopped by police and returned after covering some distance.
They were carrying placards which read stop discrimination and imported voters unacceptable and were also seen chanting anti-BJP slogans.
Separately, a group of Rastriya Bajrang Dal activists torched an effigy of Abdullah for convening an all party meeting in Srinagar on the issue of inclusion of non-local voters.
The activists, some of whom were carrying small tridents, assembled outside the bus stand and shouted slogans against the Kashmiri leaders including Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti before dispersing peacefully.