BARAMULLA, Mar 15: National Conference senior leader and former minister of state Javed Ahmad Dar on Friday said that delayed assembly elections tantamount to snatching of democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Dar who has represented Rafiabad constituency in state legislative assembly from 2009 upto 2014 did not rule out ‘political manipulation at the behest of BJP led union government’ as a reason for the unnecessary delay in holding assembly polls in J&K.
In an exclusive interview with Kashmir Despatch, Mr. Dar spoke at length on current political scenario and the National Conference preparations for upcoming elections in the state particularly in North Kashmir.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
“There is political uncertainty in North Kashmir. The election commission has announced dates for Lok Sabha polls and National Conference being a premier political party in Jammu and Kashmir had put its point of view that assembly and parliamentary polls be held simultaneously. But unfortunately the election commission has not sofar taken cognizance of that opinion. It was not only NC but other political parties had seconded this opinion to hold these polls together in Jammu and Kashmir. Actually people want a popular government to address their issues in the state and for that the elections should have been announced as early as possible. And above all since the Governor rule in J&K, certain amendments have been made which a Governor is not constitutionally authorized to do. It is the legislative assembly’s mandate to debate and discuss the public welfare issues and make amendments to the constitution or frame laws accordingly. The Governor has no prerogative to give concurrence or facilitate constitutional amendments in Jammu and Kashmir. These apprehensions are matter of concern for National Conference and for that matter people of the state. This is why we want an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir and take the major decisions.”
When asked about the reasons for delayed assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Dar said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has justified its decision not to hold assembly elections because of security situation in the state. “The ECI says the security scenario post Pulwama incident does not permit it to hold assembly elections. But let me inform you that the assembly elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir in 1996 when the insurgency was on its peak in Kashmir and the people participated in those elections. Then in 2002, 2008 and 2014 elections were held. In 2014, the NC was in power along-with its coalition partner Congress. In 2014 we had objected to holding of elections as we wanted to rehabilitate the flood hit people in Kashmir first. But certain political parties were adamant for the elections and the ECI went ahead for polls. What happened today? The abnormal security situation is not new to Kashmir. Killings of civilians, security force personnel are taking place for the last three decades now, almost on daily basis. We don’t condone killings and condemn the violence in all its manifestations. But in such a situation you are helpless. People have been witness to violence in last over three decades now but despite the fact, elections have been held and people have participated in those polls. Presently people of Kashmir feel disappointed in absence of an elected government. Because their day to day basis issues have piled up and the redressal of those issues lie with an elected government only. I don’t think the political activities have commenced in Kashmir after the announcement of Lok Sabha elections on a scale that was expected from the people. Because the people here feel let down by the ECI and that has given rise to brewing political apprehensions.
Asked how difficult is it for National Conference to keep its cadre together in light of the delayed assembly elections, Mr. Dar said: “There is no such problem within National Conference. NC is state’s premiere political party with mass based cadre. Yes we want an elected government as soon as possible and people are given their right to have a democratic set up in the state so that their difficulties are addressed. People do come to us asking about timing of assembly elections and such questions are prompted only because they suffer for want of basic amenities. NC is ready for elections as and when ECI announces dates because the elections are already delayed by eight months now. You cannot snatch peoples’ right to vote or to have a democratic government. There is no justification for this unnecessary delay. This delay has raised many a questions. Like the union government may be manipulating things before the assembly elections are held in J&K. May be they want create a cadre or base for BJP till the polls are announced. And above all, there are certain elements who do not want National Conference to come to power as they know NC is the only party that cannot compromise on the rights of people of J&K. So I think this is a tactical delay.”
When asked about NC’s expectations and preparations for coming Lok sabha polls, the former NC minister said: “Political parties are always ready for elections. We won’t give an easy walk to anybody and I am sure, God willing the NC candidate from North Kashmir Lok Sabha constituency will emerge victorious.”
On the profile and developmental scenario of Rafiabad constituency, Mr. Dar said that the developmental work carried out by him in Rafiabad constituency from 2008 upto 2014 is before public domain. “Be it education, roads and buildings, PHE or any other sector, the NC performance has been marvelous. I with the help of my party created institutions like tehsils and blocks to facilitate more mobilization of people of my constituency and to provide them easy access to the government institutions at their door steps. I got some 29 bridges constructed in my constituency to strengthen connectivity in my area. I constructed a huge road network. The people later gave a chance to the PDP candidate but his performance is also before public. People had justifiably expected much from him because he was young and energetic but what he has done during his tenure as MLA will be answered in coming elections.”