J&K restless under Governor’s Rule

Political parties and people feel Assembly elections should be held in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls

 J&K restless under Governor’s Rule

Haroon Reshi

After the Election Commission of India’s (ECI’s) team deferred its two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, which was scheduled on January 27 and 28, it is now commonly believed that Assembly polls in the state may get delayed.

Earlier, the ECI had hinted that Assembly elections will be clubbed with the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, scheduled between April and May this year. The ECI team headed by Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora, was expected to visit Jammu and Kashmir to take a final call on whether to hold simultaneous polls in the state.

Now, many believe that the BJP government at the Centre wants Jammu and Kashmir to be continuously under Governor’s rule. “I think it is a well-thought-out plan of the BJP to keep Jammu and Kashmir continuously under Governor’s Rule so that some nefarious designs are easily implemented in the state. I think that is why the fourth advisor to Governor Satya Pal Malik was appointed recently. If they had the intention to hold Assembly elections soon, a fourth advisor to the Governor would not have been appointed,” Tariq Karra, one of the founders of PDP, now with the Congress, told National Herald.

He added, “BJP cannot be trusted. My gut feeling is that they might execute a delimitation plan in Jammu region to alter the Assembly segments for their political gains. That is why they appointed such a person (Skandan Krishnan, a former IAS officer) as an advisor to the Governor, who is believed to be an expert in delimitation.”

Pertinently, Prof. Bhim Singh, Chief Patron of National Panthers Party, recently urged the Governor to seek an opinion of the Advocate-General and other legal experts regarding the claim of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), which include Gujjars, Bakerwals and Gaddis, in the state Assembly and the Council in J&K. In a statement, Singh said that the Governor is competent to appoint a Delimitation Commission to ensure that justice is delivered to the ST and SC fraternity throughout the state.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has taken several controversial decisions since he took charge of Raj Bhawan on August 21, 2018 and, particularly after he dissolved the state Assembly on November 21.

The Governor had dissolved the state Assembly on November 21 soon after the PDP, headed by Mehbooba Mufti, had staked claim to form the government with the support of rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress

Some of his controversial acts were: attempting to change J&K Bank into a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), to abolish the Roshni Act (a law giving land ownership to occupants), attempting to change the legislation governing the issuance of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) for state subjects and trying to grant divisional status to the Ladakh region.

By his contentious decisions and frequent annoying statements, Governor Satya Pal Malik irked regional parties like PDP and NC to the extent that both threatened an agitation, if he continued “to cross the red line.”

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti accused him of pursuing an agenda “influenced by someone else”. He was also accused of having a “mission of eroding the special status of the state." Several mainstream leaders accused him of carrying forward this "divisive agenda" on the “orders of someone in New Delhi".

Governor Malik was also largely criticised for approving a bill to set up a Special Security Force (SSF) for the protection of the state Governor and his immediate family members, in December last year. People like Karra called the bill a “Shahi Farmaan”. “He (Governor) behaves like he is here to stay for a long time. “Karra told National Herald.

The Governor had dissolved the state Assembly on November 21 soon after the PDP, headed by Mehbooba Mufti, had staked claim to form the government with the support of rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress. The PDP had claimed the support of 56 lawmakers in the 87-member state Assembly. The Governor’s act of sudden dissolution of the House and ending the possibility of government formation was criticised. But the controversial decision was supported by the BJP.

As per the Supreme Court ruling, Assembly elections have to be held within six months after the dissolution of the House. Political parties already seem to be in the election mode in Jammu and Kashmir and political analysts believe that delaying the Assembly elections may further alienate people. “I think delaying elections and continuing Governor’s Rule will be annoying for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as political parties of the state,” political commentator Tahir Mohiddin told National Herald.

Senior National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar said that people of the state are eagerly waiting to elect a democratic government in the state. He said, “We have already conveyed to the ECI that Assembly elections must be held as soon as possible. There is no justification for delay. We would like clubbing of the Assembly elections with the scheduled Lok Sabha polls.”

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