Srinagar: National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Monday said the Election Commission not announcing the poll schedule for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly can push people to take to streets for their right to have an elected government.
“It seems like we are being pushed to a situation where we have to protest even for our democratic rights,” Abdullah told reporters here.
The former chief minister was responding to a question whether politics in Jammu and Kashmir has been reduced to a point where people have to take to streets for holding of assembly elections.
“The Chief Election Commissioner in a press conference today said they will consider all factors before deciding on polls in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, he had said there was a vacuum in J-K which needs to be filled. We want to know what are these factors? Is the government not providing EVMs? Is the government not providing security? Is the situation worse than 1996 that elections cannot be held? Is it worse than the aftermath of the 2014 flood?” he asked.
Abdullah said that in the Supreme Court, during the hearing of Article 370 petitions, the Solicitor General had said that the government was ready for elections but the decision on it had to be taken by the Election Commission.
“Either they have lied in the SC or they are hiding behind EC…. The only factor (for delay) I can see is the BJP fear factor. If there is any other factor, please let us know. Earlier, the BJP was hiding behind the Raj Bhawan. Now they are hiding behind the Election Commission,” he added.
Abdullah said the “resounding” defeat of the BJP in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil polls might lead to further delay in holding assembly, panchayat and urban local bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have always said that we are ready for elections but the Centre and the BJP are not ready as they are scared. Today there is evidence to it…. The situation has come to a point where they would not even hold parliament elections, if they could have it their way. After this result, we can say that our elections have gone away further from us,” he said.
The NC leader said the Chief Election Commissioner should tell the people of Jammu and Kashmir whether they have the right to elections like people in other parts of the country.
“Do the people of Jammu and Kashmir not have the right to elect their government? Don’t they have right like the people of MP, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan,” he added.
Abdullah said that after the 2019 abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, the government had claimed that it was a long-pending demand of the people of Ladakh which had been fulfilled.
“But election results are evidence that it was not liked by the people of Ladakh. They were as much hurt by separation as were the people of Kashmir and Jammu, who are now protesting against it,” he said.
“BJP will say that the result was due to Kargil being Muslim majority area. The question then arises: Was division of JK on the basis of religion?” he asked.
Asked about the lieutenant governor’s assertion that 80 per cent of the people in Jammu and Kashmir were happy with the present dispensation, Abdullah said Manoj Sinha seems to be fixated with the number 80.
“I have seen that he is fascinated with figure of 80. I have noted he sees 80 in everything. When he was giving numbers of his popularity, why did he give a discount of 20 per cent? He can have 100 per cent,” he said.
Abdullah said if things were to be believed just like that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi might do away with elections.
“If things can be done like this, then Modi can say 80 per cent of people like him and there is no need for elections,” he added.
Asked about the BJP charge that opposition parties were propagating dynastic politics, Abdullah said it was the people who decide through elections.
“I have been (in politics for) around 23 years. It is the people who decide. As far as leadership (of the party) is considered, I don’t tell the BJP who should be their president. Similarly, they have no right to tell us who should be our leader. Our leader is elected by our party members. If they are so concerned, let them come and fight party election against us,” he added. PTI