KD NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Mar 14: The State Election Committee (SEC) of BJP is scheduled to meet on Friday at Jammu to finalize its probable contenders for six Lok Sabha constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Ashok Kaul, BJP general secretary (Organization), told Kashmir Despatch that the party’s SEC is meeting at 3 PM in Jammu to deliberate on the candidature for Lok Sabha elections to be held next month in the state.
“Our SEC represents all the regions of the State. The meeting to be held tomorrow will deliberate the candidature for Lok Sabha constituencies of J&K threadbare and will submit its report before the BJP’s Parliamentary Board for J&K in Delhi,” Mr. Kaul said.
He revealed that the BJP’s Parliamentary Board will later discuss the SEC report in its meeting to be held on March 16 in New Delhi to finalize and announce the BJP candidates for all the Lok Sabha constituencies of J&K by the evening.
“Our SEC will discuss the recommendations submitted by all the BJP district level committees in the state and later evolve consensus over the probable candidates. The BJP’s Parliamentary Board for J&K in New Delhi will finally decide the candidature taking into consideration its own reports from the ground,” Mr. Kaul added. He said that BJP is trying its best to win over three seats in Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP general secretary said that he does not think the assembly elections would be held simultaneously because of various reasons. “We have a large community of nomads who are not available in their homes because of their professional compulsions at this time. Also, Shri. Amarnath Ji Yatra is going to commence very soon. Third point is that the security cover needed for all contesting candidates in assembly elections is a huge requirement. Keeping all these factors into consideration, I don’t think the election commission would be in a position to take a call on holding of assembly elections in the state right now,” he added.
Mr. Kaul said that the security situation is disturbed only in few districts of South Kashmir and rest the situation is normal. “See last time they conducted by polls in Srinagar and the voter turnout was around 90000 votes out of over 12 lacs and Mr. Farooq Abdullah won with a seven per cent vote margin. By virtue of such arithmetic’s, there was no reason not to hold elections in South Kashmir constituency. Why were those elections not held? I believe that elections in South Kashmir constituency were not held because PDP had fielded a candidate from Mufti family and they thought they will lose that seat and that is why the then government created such a situation so that the elections are not held in that constituency?”
When asked that BJP was part of that government and does that mean you stopped elections, Mr. Kaul said: “We had sacrificed all our desires and became a part of the government only to see and peace and tranquility in Kashmir. I am sure voter turnout in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency could have been much better than Srinagar. Not holding elections in Anantnag gave a wrong signal across the world. If Mehbooba Mufti says she had tightened noose around the BJP and had not allowed BJP to do anything. By this claim, it means the then chief minister had stopped elections being held in South Kashmir constituency. It also means BJP took a right decision by withdrawing its support from PDP led government in the state.”
He said in light of the constitutional technicalities involved in extending presidential rule in the state, there is a probability that the assembly elections would be held before December 2019. Mr. Kaul said that BJP will have its own Chief Ministerial candidate after coming assembly elections in the state. “It is not something hard and fast that our chief ministerial candidate will be from Jammu province only. No. He can be from any divisions of the state.”
The BJP general secretary opined that people of Jammu and Kashmir should go for comparison of political parties on the basis of their performance and delivery on the ground. “I think coalition governments are in nobody’s interest. The people should give a decisive mandate to a single party that can rule and govern effectively in the state. Let the people of Kashmir also give us an opportunity to serve them,” he added.
On a question of banning Jammat-e-Islami, Mr. Kaul said that the action has been taken by the authorities after proper application of mind. “If some organization is banned and it thinks that there is nothing adverse against it, the banned organization must approach the court of law. Jammat has many legal experts across the world. They can hire any legal expert and fight their case.”
Asked what prompted banning of Jammat, Mr. Kaul said that the escalation in the situation has been one of the reasons for putting on a ban on this organization. “When the situation flares up, the security agencies dig deep into its reasons. I think the government at the center and particularly the union home ministry must have arrived at this decision after probing finding some conclusive evidences of their involvement in subversive activities in Kashmir,” he told Kashmir Despatch.
Similarly, he said that NIA raids are a part of that decision. Asked about summoning of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mr. Kaul said: “Nobody is above law. If Mirwaiz has been summoned by NIA, he should abide by the law as a common citizen.”
Mr. Kaul ridiculed the statements of Omar Abdullah that PM Modi has surrendered before China and Pakistan and Dr Farooq Abdullah’s remarks that surgical strike at Balakote was aimed at winning Lok Sabha elections. “These are highly unfortunate and politically immature statements by both father and the son. Our surgical strike at Balakote has been acknowledged worldwide and is a matter of honour for every citizen of the country.”
He rebutted the opinion of opposition parties that Balakote strikes were carried out by BJP government to avoid attention from the country’s ‘slow’ growth rate and other socio-economic ‘failures’.
“The country’s growth rate is witness and other promises fulfilled by the BJP government like one rank one pension, depositing lacs of rupees in accounts of refugees, making our economy as one of the fastest growing economies in the world are a testimony to the fact that opposition has nothing to offer except for spreading lies,” he added.
He said that BJP stands by its ideology and commitment of abrogation of Article 370. “A lot of confusion is being created around Article 35-A by associating its existence with Mahraja Hari Singh. This article was inserted into the Indian constitution by mere presidential proclamation and has nothing to do with state subject law which was brought by Hari Singh. ”
He asked: “Can anybody purchase the land in Himachal Pradesh? You are supposed to reside there for around 20 to 25 years then you can purchase the land there. Mahraja Hari Singh brought different people from different parts of the country like the one person who started Regional Research Laboratory in Jammu and made them state subjects. We can’t leave our ideology of eik nishan, eik vidhan, eik pradhan. Our vision is clear that J&K is an integral part of India.”
He said that BJP has not left its mission of Shri. Mukherjee but will not bypass the legal procedure. “I still reiterate Mr. Modi’s call made in Jammu that there should be debate on merits and demerits of Article 370. People of Kashmir especially the literate class should not associate this article with any identity, culture or religion. They should sit and debate and see which provisions are to be scrapped and which are to be retained.”
He said that Supreme Court has already said that abrogation of Article 370 is to be decided by the state assembly. “We believe in democratic set up and do not believe in governor or presidential rule because that is not good for people. So these are deliberate rumours, being spread that BJP wants delayed assembly polls because of certain ulterior motives.”
Mr. Kaul said that if some regional parties demand probe into custodial killings in Kashmir, they should start it with the custodial killing of Shri. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who was killed in custody and the letter of his mother addressed to the then Prime Minister Jawahir Lal Nehru should be taken into consideration.