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BJP Delaying Polls In Jammu & Kashmir, Not Election Commission: Ex-CM Omar Abdullah

The Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected assembly since 2018 when it was dissolved by then Governor Satya Pal Malik. In 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come together to form the government which fell apart in 2018 when the BJP —the junior partner in coalition— withdrew its support.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
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On the day the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the assembly elections schedule for Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it is not the ECI but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that’s delaying the polls in J&K by citing the security situation.

Omar said the BJP’s move to cite the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is an excuse and nothing else. 

“After abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the BJP told the whole world that the militancy has ended in Jammu and Kashmir and that the situation has normalised in Jammu and Kashmir. When the weather is clear and the situation is also normal, not holding the polls indicates the BJP is afraid of the polls,” said Omar.

Omar further said the BJP has no courage to face people. 

He added, “How long will the BJP run away from polls?” 

Omar said the day they will hold the polls the BJP would be held accountable by people through democratic exercise for every act of “oppression” they have committed in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said, “I had an impression that the Election Commission doesn’t want to have polls in Jammu and Kashmir. But I no longer have this impression after our representative held discussion with the ECI in New Delhi three days ago.

“During the meeting with the Election Commission in which all political parties participated, our party representative asked the Chief Election Commissioner why the ECI is holding these meetings and why it is not holding the polls in J&K.”

Omar said the J&K National Conference (NC) party representative conveyed to the ECI that instead of wasting time of political parties in the lectures, they should hold the elections as for the past four years the ECI is not able hold the polls in J&K.

The Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected assembly since 2018 when the assembly was dissolved by then Governor Satyapal Malik. In 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP had come together to form the government which fell apart in 2018 when the BJP —the junior partner in coalition— withdrew its support. 

Omar further said, “There everything came to fore when the Chief Election Commissioner of India told the representative of our party that the ECI is ready to hold the polls as they have completed delimitation exercise, voter list is also prepared, polling booths are also identified and election staff is also prepared. But we (ECI) are waiting for two things, weather and security. There, I realised if the polls are not taking place, it is because of the BJP as the BJP doesn’t want to have polls.”

Omar said the weather is not an issue and the BJP would not be able to keep snow in Jammu and Kashmir in March and April.

On January 16, NC and PDP participated in a meeting of the ECI along with other parties. The meeting was about the demonstration and discussion of the remote voting machines (RVMs). NC treasurer Shammi Oberoi had taken part in the deliberations during the ECI meeting. He had stated that when the “government was concerned about facilitating domestic migrants to exercise their voting rights, why people of Jammu and Kashmir are deprived from exercising their democratic rights”.

Earlier, it was expected that elections will be held after the Delimitation Commission report. On May 6 last year, Delimitation Commission finalised its two-year-long exercise recommending the creation of six additional assembly constituencies in the Jammu region and one more in the Kashmir Valley. 

Later on November 26, 2022, the final electoral roll of Jammu and Kashmir was published with the addition of more than 7.72 lakh voters. This has taken the total voters from 75,86,899 to 83,59,771 — 42,91,687 males, 40,67,900 females, and 184 of the third gender.

The political parties were expecting after the release of electoral rolls, polls will be announced, but no announcement has come from the ECI so far.  

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