J-K assembly polls: Unionists simmer after non-locals get voting rights

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Srinagar: Hours after the Chief Election Officer (CEO) announced the voting rights in the assembly polls to the non-locals in Jammu and Kashmir, the political leaders, including the former chief ministers, expressed resentment over the move and termed it disastrous.

National Conference (NC) Vice president Omar Abdullah said that such moves will not help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the people of J-K are given a chance to cast ballots.

“Is the BJP so insecure about support from genuine voters of J&K that it needs to import temporary voters to win seats? None of these things will help the BJP when the people of J&K are given a chance to exercise their franchise,” Omar tweeted.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said that such decisions are aimed to influence the election results, but the real aim is to continue ruling J-K with an iron fist to disempower locals.

“GOIs decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals,” Mehbooba tweeted.

People’s Conference (PC) chairman Sajad Gani Lone while reacting to the statement of the Chief Electoral Officer of J-K that every citizen of the country staying in J-K can have voting rights in assembly elections, said that such a step would be a replay of 1987.

Taking to the microblogging platform Twitter, Lone said, “This is dangerous. I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than a mischief. Democracy is a relic especially in the context of Kashmir. Please remember 1987. We are yet to come out of that. Don’t replay 1987. It will be as disastrous.”

CPI (M) senior leader, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said that what CEO has said amounts to disenfranchising the people of Jammu and Kashmir further. “The delimitation process through Re-organisation Act was an attempt to change the electoral demography of the region,” he said.

“In the absence of any representative government in J&K, the union government has been exercising undiluted control in the region through a bureaucratic structure since June 2018. Today’s statement of CEO is a brazen assault on the legitimate aspirations of the people,” Tarigami said.

Apni Party urged the Government of India to come clear on the matter as prima facie this is aimed at disempowerment the people further.

“While the party is studying the legal implications of this move, we urge the Government of India to take into account the aspirations and concerns of the people of J-K as it may have far-reaching ramifications,” Apni Party said.

“We hope that supremacy of Law is upheld and no illegal or arbitrary decision is taken. Apni Party will fight for protection of rights of the people and we won’t allow any unconstitutional move that is contrary to the aspirations of the people,” Apni Party said. (KNO)

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