NC, CPI (M), PDF, DPN boycotts meet; PC pitches for ‘conducive atmosphere’
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress Thursday criticized the Election Commission of India (ECI) observers’ team for not adhering to their request of holding simultaneous Legislative Assembly (LA) and parliament polls in Jammu Kashmir and urged them to announce the dates of LA polls at the earliest.
National Conference (NC) on the other hand decided not to meet the ECI team, terming it a “fruitless exercise”.
Senior PDP leader Muhammad Ashraf Mir, who was leading the PDP delegation, said they criticised the ECI team for ignoring the voices of the people and taking side with an “autocratic” administration.
“We told the ECI team that their action of not holding simultaneous polls has saddened Kashmiris,” Mir said.
He said they also asked the ECI to explain the reason for singling out Jammu Kashmir from the other states where simultaneous parliamentary and assembly polls were announced.
“We also requested them to at least announce the dates of the assembly polls so that uncertainty among people ends,” Mir said. “There are apprehensions that the Governor, along with his advisors, are in no mood to give up their power.”
On March 10, during their meeting with the ECI, the mainstream political parties had pitched for simultaneous parliamentary and assembly polls to have an elected government in the State.
However, without paying any heed to the demand of the regional political parties, ECI Sunday cited “security concerns” and announced the dates of only Lok Sabha polls for the State.
Amid growing criticism of the ECI’s decision to withhold assembly polls, three special observers appointed by the poll-body arrived in Srinagar on Thursday to assess the ground situation for holding the assembly elections in the State.
ECI had appointed former bureaucrats Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former Police officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the situation in Jammu Kashmir.
Senior Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin, who was leading the Congress delegation, said they expressed their disappointment to the ECI team for ignoring their request of not holding simultaneous polls in the State.
“We told them that it was unfortunate that instead of listening to the representatives of the people, ECI made a decision of not holding simultaneous polls in the State on the advice of the State administration,” Mohiuddin told Rising Kashmir.
He said like in their last meeting, they again cited an example of 2008 mass uprising and told the observer’s team that atmosphere was far better today to conduct assembly polls in the State.
“We told them that barring a few volatile constituencies, they can easily conduct simultaneous polls in no-trouble constituencies in Kashmir region,” he said. “We request them to announce the dates at the earliest.”
Meanwhile, NC Thursday decided not to meet the ECI observers’ team saying the party had already conveyed its stand to ECI earlier and there was no need to meet them again.
“What is the need of meeting the ECI observers’ team again? We have already made our stand clear on Assembly polls in the State. Our stand remains the same which means conducting simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the State,” NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said.
He said postponement of assembly polls could have serious ramifications across the State.
“The ones who took this decision must be up for some mischief. Otherwise, there is no sound reason for not conducting both assembly and LS polls together,” Sagar said. “If the situation is conducive for parliament polls, what stops them from conducting assembly elections at the same time.”
Sagar said he fails to comprehend the yardstick employed by ECI in announcing separate assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
“Why same principle was not employed at the time of ULB and Panchayat elections,” Sagar said.
He said Government of India wants someone in the State who would work at the whims and fancies of BJP leadership.
“We will not let them succeed in this mission. Any misadventure in J&K by those who are holding the reigns of country will seriously undermine the greater good of the nation,” Sagar said.
Meanwhile, Peoples Conference led by Sajad Lone pitched for a “conducive atmosphere” for the assembly polls before the ECI team.
“We requested the ECI team that before conducting assembly polls, there is a need of confidence building measures,” PC leader Abdul Gani Vakil said. “We told them that there should be an immediate stoppage of harassment and arrests of people so that maximum voters participate in the polls.”
He said they told the ECI that low voter turnout would make the entire election process “a butt of ridicule” in front of the world.
“If an MLA will be elected on 1000 votes, it will be a mockery of democracy. So we expressed the same to the ECI team,” Vakil said.
Meanwhile, CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) Chairman Hakeem Muhamad Yaseen and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) President Ghulam Hassan Mir also did not meet the ECI observers’ team.
Issuing a joint statement, the trio said the leaders of the three parties did not meet the special observers’ team, as they had already put forth their position about holding simultaneous polls in the State before the Election Commission last week.