A day after the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) said that any Indian citizen residing in the Union territory (UT) can vote in the assembly elections, Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said would be the last nail in the coffin of electoral democracy in J&K.
J&K Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar on Wednesday said that a person would not need to hold a J&K domicile to be a voter in the UT. Mufti reacted sharply to the CEO’s announcement, calling the new voters to be added as “BJP voters”.
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.”
CEO Kumar on Wednesday said 20-25 new voters are expected to be added to the electoral roll that is being prepared.
On the question of non-J&K domiciled voters, he said, “Before abrogation of Article 370, a lot of people were not eligible to vote in the Assembly. But now their name will come into the voter list. That means a huge number of people will register themselves as voters. The rule for it is simple. Any person who wants to vote should be ordinarily staying in J&K like a labourer, or for education, or for business purposes. There is no need to be a permanent resident to be a voter in J&K, so a huge number of such voters will be added to the voter list.”
Kumar said many residents of J&K working in armed forces and paramilitary forces, who are posted outside the UT, have an option to get registered as service voters. In the same manner, he added, those from different parts of the country posted in J&K have an option to enlist themselves as voters.
Speaking at a press conference, Mufti said she appeals to nationalist Indians to see the illegalities of the BJP.
“It was the BJP that removed Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution through unconstitutional means. The BJP subverted Indian Constitution and after that they started selling J&K in every parliamentary election,” said Mufti.
She further said, “If 25 lakh BJP voters will come from outside, what will remain value of voters of Jammu and Kashmir. J&K issue has gone beyond elections now. Time has come to resolve the Kashmir issue.”
Mufti said she contacted National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah to convene an all-party meeting to decide the future course of action on giving voting rights to non-J&K residents. She also pitched for unity among all and said that after the 2024 elections, the BJP like the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, will remove the Constitution of India and replace the tricolour with the ‘bhagwa flag’.
Mufti said the decisions are not being taken in the interests of the nation but in the interests of the BJP.
“We have been witnessing how the elections are being rigged everywhere in the country, even before and after the elections as well. The BJP is not going to change the country into Hindu Rashtra, but in BJP Rashtra,” she said, adding that the way Article 370 was removed unconstitutionally and the Indian constitution was subverted, it was in the interest of BJP as, after the decision, the party sold plots in J&K to rest of the country.