BJP wants timely polls in Jammu and KashmirSeptember 7th, 2008 - 3:49 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, Sep 7 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is for conducting polls in Jammu and Kashmir as per schedule and the protests in the Valley should not be a hurdle, party national general secretary Arun Jaitley said here Sunday. “Our party wants elections on time. There should be no delay in the restoration of the democratic government. We are for polls as per schedule,” Jaitley said.
The Election Commission has called a meeting of national and regional parties in New Delhi Monday to know their views on the election schedule in view of the continuing separatist protests in the state, specially in the Valley.
Jammu and Kashmir was scheduled to go for polls in October-November and the new government was expected to be in place by Nov 20, when the six-year-term of the assembly elected in 2002 was to expire. But the government of Ghulam Nabi Azad was reduced to a minority after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) pulled out of the coalition over the Amarnath land row. The assembly was dissolved July 10.
Governor N.N. Vohra dissolved the assembly July 10 and proclaimed governor’s rule in the state.
The BJP, which was in the forefront of the agitation in Jammu for the restoration of 40 hectares of forest land to a temple trust in Baltal, is eyeing better results in the polls this time round. It had won only one seat in the 2002 elections.
Jaitley ruled out the possibility of the BJP entering into an alliance with any of the three other major parties in the state - the National Conference, with which it is running the Jammu Municipal Corporation, the Congress and PDP.
“We would rather to sit in opposition than forge an alliance with any of these parties,” he asserted.
Jammu region has 37 seats and it is for a fresh delimitation in the hope of getting more seats on the basis of the number of voters and geographical area. The Jammu leaders, especially the BJP, claim that Jammu has more geographical area and voters than the Valley. They allege that the Valley population census has been manipulated by the “militants over there”.
But Jaitley stressed that the BJP “cannot wait for the Delimitation Commission and its report for the elections to be held”.
Jaitley said the Amarnath land row being resolved in favour of the shrine board was “a victory of nationalist and patriotic forces over separatists and their supporters”.
The over two-month long agitation over the Amarnath land row in Jammu region was suspended Aug 31 after an agreement was reached between a government panel and the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti, a conglomerate of Hindu groups, giving exclusive rights to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to use the land at Baltal during the pilgrimage season.
The state government had May 26 transferred a 40-hectare plot of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board but withdrew this following protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. The revocation July 1 ignited an agitation in the Hindu majority Jammu region that lasted for 61 days.
The land row has reinfused separatist sentiments in the valley, where Muslims have been rallying in favour of freedom for the last two months.