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Govt ready to hold Assembly polls in J&K; EC to decide: Union minister Jitendra Singh


New Delhi, Dec 5: The government is ready to hold Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir whenever the Election Commission (EC) takes a final decision in the matter, Union minister Jitendra Singh said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Intervening in the discussion on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, the minister of state in the prime minister’s office (PMO) said “whenever the EC announces it (Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir), we are ready”.

He said this in response to a demand from opposition parties for holding early Assembly polls in the Union Territory.

“The EC has its own mechanism of gathering inputs according to its requirements and it will take a final call. Let us all trust the wisdom of the EC and not appear to be interfering in its functioning,” Singh added.

He further said democracy must reach the grass-root level and in the future, “we will do” what is in the best interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Singh blamed Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, for the Kashmir problem.

He further said the Congress should be grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution that provided a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Singh said a series of measures have been taken to ensure development in the Union Territory.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah wanted to know from the BJP-led Centre why Assembly polls are not being held in Jammu and Kashmir.

Participating in the discussion, Congress leader Manish Tewari also sought to know about the election and when statehood would be restored in Jammu and Kashmir.

He wondered that at a time when the treasury benches are claiming that normalcy has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir, “why elections” are not being held.

Tewari further said constitutional proprietary demands that the government should refrain from coming up with these legislations as a matter related to the Constitution (Amendment) Act pertaining to the abrogation of Article 370 is pending in the Supreme Court.

Home Minister Amit Shah, who was present during the debate, said he would give a detailed reply on all the issues raised by the opposition members. Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said peace in Jammu and Kashmir is “more important” than elections.

He said after the abrogation of Article 370, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved and investments have started pouring in.

Intervening, Union minister Anurag Thakur said it is sad when security personnel are killed, but the opposition should not forget that 45,000 people died in Jammu and Kashmir during the 70 years of their regime.

National Conference (NC) MP Hasnain Masoodi also demanded early polls in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the government should tell the truth to the country and not spread the illusion of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Masoodi also claimed that unemployment is increasing in the Union Territory. Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too demanded early polls and said the government should bring a comprehensive bill on reservation to meet the aspirations of the people of different states.

Janata Dal-United’s Kaushalendra Kumar also demanded the holding of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.–(PTI)



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