Expressing strong reservations over inclusion of outside voters in Jammu and Kashmir electoral rolls, Congress on Thursday said this move clearly shows that BJP has lost local support, so it wants outsiders to defeat mandate of the people of the Union territory.
On Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir's Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar said the Union territory is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, as people ordinarily residing here even for work purpose can cast vote in the next assembly elections.
"We have strong reservations over the move to enroll 25 lakh new voters, especially outside voters, under the misplaced interpretation of the category of 'ordinarily residents' of Union territory. In that case, will the residents of J&K or outsiders elect their representatives in the next elections?" J&K Pradesh Congress Committee working president Raman Bhalla said in a statement here.
Bhalla further said, "How come the chief electoral officer knows the exact number of outsiders, entitled to become voters in J&K, when they have yet to apply. How and why the provision is being misused to enroll those as voters, who are otherwise not eligible?"
He said they seriously viewed that the provision of "ordinarily residents" as contained in section 20 of the Representation of Peoples Act, which is primarily meant to protect the voting rights of those who are temporarily outside their respective place of residence in connection with job, business, profession, etc., is being “deliberately misused to give undue benefit to non-eligible persons”.
This clearly demonstrates that BJP has lost local support, so it wants outside voters to be enrolled to defeat the mandate of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
Reacting to the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)'s announcement, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said would be the last nail in the coffin of electoral democracy in J&K.
She said, “Yesterday Chief Electoral Officer issued a new diktat and with it, BJP’s 25 lakh voters, who are non-locals, will be included as voters of J&K. This this the last nail in the coffin of electoral democracy in J&K.”
Mufti further said, “BJP has turned J&K into a laboratory and they are doing experiments here. Whatever unconstitutional and illegal is done in J&K is being described as a move in the national interest. Nothing is happening in the national interest in Jammu and Kashmir. Everything is done for the BJP’s interest.”
(With PTI Inputs)