As the last Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir were held in 2014, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah led an all parties delegation from Jammu and Kashmir today and told the Election Commission of India that it is under a constitutional obligation to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The delegation in its memorandum presented to the ECI in New Delhi said that the delay and denial of assembly elections in J&K would amount to a denial of the fundamental and democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The delegation said the assembly election would be the first and most important step towards the restoration of all the constitutional rights guaranteed in the constitution of India and the fulfilment of the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Leaders from national opposition parties and opposition party leaders from Jammu and Kashmir met at the Constitutional Club in Delhi to discuss the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir. They sought restoration of the rights of the people and statehood for J&K.
Dr Farooq Abdullah, General Secretary CPI(M) Sitaram Yechuri, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, and leaders from Congress, CPI and RJD participated in the deliberations. Later the opposition leaders from J&K led by Dr Farooq Abdullah met the ECI and submitted the memorandum.
The delegation informed the ECI that the Panchayat elections and elections to other PRIs could not be substituted for legislative assembly elections and the government and for that matter, the ECI cannot avoid and delay assembly elections on that ground.
The delegation said Jammu and Kashmir is without a legislative assembly and an elected government and in disregard of the letter and spirit of the constitution, an unrepresentative and unaccountable bureaucracy is allowed to run the government to the discomfort and inconvenience of the general public.
“The panchayat elections and elections to other PRIs cannot be substituted to legislative assembly elections and the government and for that matter, the ECI cannot avoid and delay assembly elections on that ground. Had it been so, there would be no need to conduct assembly elections in states,” the memorandum presented to the ECI reads.
It cited examples of recently held assembly elections in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland and the scheduled polls to be held in Karnataka, saying in each case the argument though, inherently specious, could have been that as PRIs were in place, there was no need to hold assembly elections.
The memorandum said that the Home Minister and other functionaries of the Government of India have more than once stated that the government is ready to facilitate the conduct of assembly elections and the final call is to be taken by the Election Commission of India.
“We, the signatories to this memorandum representing different political parties of Jammu and Kashmir and various national political parties implore and request the Election Commission of India to announce the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir without any further delay and notify the election schedule so that the democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and access to democratic institutions is restored,” the memorandum reads.
J&K is without an elected government since November 2018 when the then governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly. In Kashmir, Omar Abdullah said the delegation went to Delhi to meet the ECI to seek justice for Jammu and Kashmir. “The last elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 and since then no polls have been conducted in J&K. It is perhaps the longest gap between the polls,” Omar said.
In response to the question of why the party leaders do not meet the Prime Minister for having elections in J&K, Omar said the party leaders from J&K went to meet the ECI as it is the constitutional body to announce and conduct the polls, not the Prime Minister. “If the prime minister or home minister had to announce the polls, we would have met them. But the elections are announced by the ECI,” Omar added.