August 2002 News

J&K polls will not be postponed, says Advani

19 August 2002
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: The NDA Government today made it clear that it did not favour either deferring the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir or bringing the State under Governor''s rule. Talking to mediapersons here, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, questioned the demand for postponing the polls and suggested that it was being made by elements who were under some kind of influence from Pakistan. ''Our focus and attention is that Assembly elections in the State should be free and fair. The Government is keen that not only should elections be free and fair, but they should also be seen to be free and fair. The elements who are not participating in the polls are those who have a soft corner for Pakistan and have been working under directives from across the border,'' he said. Referring to suggestion in some quarters that Jammu and Kashmir be brought under Governor''s rule before and during the polls, Mr. Advani said the Centre would not like to impose anything on the State. ''This matter rests with the State Government. We do not want to impose anything on it.'' A suggestion for postponing the elections was made by the Kashmir Committee headed by the former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethamalani, after its interaction with several political parties and organisations during its three-day visit to the State. Mr. Advani said the suggestions of the Kashmir Committee, in fact, meant very little at a time when the election schedule has already been announced in the State. The Government was keen to see the participation of the Hurriyat Conference in the polls, he added. Mr. Advani''s comments came a day after the Cabinet Committee on Security held an informal meeting and took the view that the Government would not go out of its way to appease the ''separatist'' elements. It also decided to adhere to the election schedule in the State and do nothing to disturb the Farooq Abdullah dispensation there. On the political front, the Bharatiya Janata Party launched a scathing attack on those demanding postponement of the elections, criticising it as being ''undemocratic.'' While the party would have welcomed the participation in the election by all those who had faith in the Constitution, it was not for appeasing and cajoling those who did not and might, in fact, have more than a lurking sympathy for Pakistan. This was made amply clear by the BJP general secretary, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who said: ''We respect the Jethmalani Committee but we do not agree with the demand for delaying elections.'' At this juncture, the party was totally opposed to the idea of any postponement of the announced Assembly elections in the State where the first phase of polling would take place on September 16.


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