Jammu and Kashmir: 'BJP has suspended almost all tiers of democracy,' says Jairam Ramesh

The Congress leader noted that belying high hopes of the hospitality sector recovering from the pandemic, investment proposals worth only Rs 87 crore have been received

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in Guwahati on 11 April 2024 (photo: PTI)
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in Guwahati on 11 April 2024 (photo: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

On the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign visit to Udhampur today, 12 April, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh took to social media platform X to take the BJP-led central government to task over the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir

In a sharp jibe at the Modi government, Ramesh said the Centre has suspended democracy at every level in Jammu and Kashmir, and alleged that it is refusing to hold elections just in order to retain power.

In his post on X, Ramesh spoke of the deteriorating situation and the passing of the buck between the Election Commission of India and the Union government of this now union territory:

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has been under the direct rule of the central government ever since the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government in 2018 citing the 'deteriorating security situation'. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are without an elected government.
Four Rajya Sabha seats are also vacant due to the delay in the Assembly elections. The Centre has often blamed the Election Commission of India for the delay in holding elections, but now the chief election commissioner has hit back and blamed the Centre for the delay after the 2022 delimitation.

The Congress leader made a note of the lack of investment despite the tall claims emanating from Delhi about development in Kashmir, pointing out that since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 and the announcement of the new industrial policy in January 2021, the union territory has so far registered only 414 industrial units and the actual investment in land is only Rs 2,518 crore.

Ramesh also pointed out that despite high hopes of the hospitality sector seeing an upswing post-pandemic, investment proposals worth only Rs 87 crore have been received so far. In his X post, Ramesh asked:

Where are all the 'development and progress' that PM Modi promised in 2019 and 2021?
Why did the BJP wait so long to hold elections in the state? Are they afraid of the people's verdict? How long will the Prime Minister cling on to power in a state where people have never chosen him as their leader?

During his speech in Parliament on 11 December 2023, union home minister Amit Shah said that Jammu and Kashmir would be restored to full statehood at an “appropriate time”. Ramesh asked:

Like the Assembly and panchayat elections, will this commitment also be delayed till an 'appropriate' time for the BJP?

The Congress leader also noted that the terms of 4,892 panchayats and 316 block development councils—the second and third tiers of the Panchayati Raj—had ended on 9 January. With the terms of various urban local bodies having already ended in November 2023, the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have elected representatives at most levels of government.

Once again, the ruling BJP is unwilling to hold fresh elections in the state. Why has PM Modi so ruthlessly suppressed the aspirations of the people?

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