Who Is Afraid Of Timely Jammu And Kashmir Assembly Polls?

16 October 2014
Deccan Chronicle
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: Chief minister Omar Abdullah's critics and political opponents have rejected his warning that if the Assembly elections in the state are held on time there would be 'zero percentage turnout' in parts of the Valley including Srinagar ravaged by last month's deluge as a lame excuse and a deliberate attempt to save himself from possible discomfiture. They assert his shying away from polls has more to do with his own tumbling political graph and that of his National Conference party than the logistics or voter participation. 'His popularity is at lowest recorded levels because of the constant failures of the government, the latest being lackadaisical attitude vis-à-vis the problems of the flood sufferers,' said a senior leader of Opposition People's Conference. Its chief spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar, who along with senior party leader Muhammad Dilawar Mir had pleaded before a visiting EC official that elections should be held on time said, 'It will be zero percentage turn out only for NC.' He added, 'Democratic process must not be derailed that is why we want elections should be held on due date. This government has failed to deliver on all fronts and messed up even the flood relief work. People should be given the opportunity to elect a new government which has a vision and implements it on ground too in next six years.' But the NC insists elections would only bring the relief and rehabilitation efforts to a grinding halt. 'PDP is opportunistic, even insensitive. Its' amusing desperation for early elections at a time like this has exposed the party's agenda of obsession with power,' reacted Junaid Azim Mattu, the CMs aide and Mr Akhtar's counterpart from the ruling party. Political analyst Javid Iqbal without seeking to ally himself with either asked, 'We may not be concerned who wins or loses the Assembly election but do you think it is advisable to hold elections in a time phase when the state machinery should remain totally involved with providing relief in post flood scenario?' He asserted the State administration is a permanent institution which should be left free to perform its prime duty at the moment-flood relief, irrespective of the fact whether Mr. A or Mr. B heads the Council of Ministers as we have seen time and again A or B makes no difference.' It is not only the PDP which wants elections on time. Almost every other mainstream political party-small or big differs with the Chief Minister and his NC on the issue, making it virtually Omar Abdullah versus the rest story. Even the BJP which had at one stage reluctantly asked for deferring the polls is now openly saying these should be held on time. It and also other Opposition parties particularly the PDP have evinced interest in holding of elections before or immediately after the present House completes its stipulated six years' term in November mainly in the belief the peoples' anger against the NC-Congress coalition government could be reflected in the EVMs. These parties are certain that the NC and the Congress may be rejected in the Assembly polls as was the case in the last Lok Sabha elections when the coalition partners failed to win even a single seat in the State. Local watchers agree the flood fallout has only made matters worse for them. As far the separatist parties, they will reiterate their call for poll boycott on the premise that elections held under the framework of Indian Constitution cannot be a substitute to the promised plebiscite. Now the ball is in the court of EC which would visit the State at this weekend to assess the situation on the ground and take the final call. 'We still believe we would be doing great disservice to the people by thrusting elections on them at a stage when thousands have been rendered homeless. Nevertheless, the NC has always stood for upholding the democratic process and democratic institutions. We will abide by decision of the Election Commission,' Mr. Mattu said.