No objection to simultaneous polls if EC decides: HM
Jaitley recalls history; blames Cong for alienation, murder of democracy
JAMMU, Jan 3: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today announced in the Rajya Sabha that the Central Government will have no objections to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls if the Election Commission desired and it will extend full assistance (to the Commission) like additional para-military forces even as he strongly defended Governor Satya Pal Malik saying he hasn’t carried out any “wrong amendment’’ in the legislations during the Governor’s rule saying one of the amendments in the Panchayati Raj Act increasing financial powers of the Panchayats 10 times, has become a role model for other States of the country.
Rajnath was replying to debate on Statutory Resolution to impose President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha. The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the House.
Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, who intervened in the debate, launched a frontal attack on the Congress saying it were the Congress policies right since 1950, which were responsible for alienation in Kashmir and not four and half years rule of the BJP-led NDA Government, as claimed by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
As Rajnath concluded his speech, Azad said Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in next about two months. He wanted to know from the Home Minister if the Election Commission of India asks the Government on whether it was ready to hold Assembly elections along with Lok Sabha polls in J&K, what would be the Government response?
Rajnath said: “If the Election Commission wants to hold Assembly elections simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls, the Government will have no objection’’.
Following Rajnath’s assurance, the Rajya Sabha unanimously adopted the Statutory Resolution on imposition of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir, which was imposed in the State through a Presidential proclamation issued by Ram Nath Kovind on December 19 after completion of six months of the Governor’s rule. After 1996, this is the first time the Central rule has been imposed in the State.
Asserting that conduct of the elections is responsibility of the Election Commission of India, Rajnath said there will be no hurdle from the Government side in holding elections in the State and “we will give whatever security is asked for’’.
Reacting to charge made by Ghulam Nabi Azad that the Jammu and Kashmir Governor has carried out series of amendments in various Acts during the Governor’s rule when Legislature powers were vested with him, Rajnath strongly defended Governor Satya Pal Malik saying he hasn’t carried out any such amendment, which is not in the interests of Jammu and Kashmir.
“One of the amendments made by the Governor pertained to Panchayati Raj Act, which has increased financial powers of Panchayats 10 times. Whether this (the amendment) is wrong? This will strengthen democracy at grass root level. In fact, this amendment has become a model for rest of the States in the country,’’ the Home Minister said.
Declaring that the Central Government was ready to take any initiative that helps in restoration of peace in Kashmir, he recalled that he had always been asking Azad and other senior leaders of Jammu and Kashmir to suggest steps to improve situation in the State. He said the Government was ready to seek everyone’s cooperation and take all stakeholders on board in finding a solution to Kashmir problem.
“We don’t want to take credit. We want to take everyone together,’’ he said.
Asserting that there was sense of alienation in Kashmir even before Independence and it was not the present Government, which was responsible for this, Rajnath said: “We are taking all steps to minimize or neutralize this sense of alienation among the people. We don’t want alienation to take place. In fact, steps to remove alienation should have been taken long back (a reference towards Congress) but this didn’t happen’’.
Rejecting opposition criticism that BJP’s “unnatural” alliance with PDP had alienated population in the Valley, Rajnath reeled out statistics to drive home the development without appeasement agenda of his party.
“There was no conspiracy not to allow any other party to form the Government,” he said in response to Opposition charge, leveled by Azad who had initiated debate on the Statutory Resolution, that the Governor did not allow National Congress, PDP and Congress to form an alternate Government.
The Governor’s rule was necessitated in June last year after the leaders of all political parties in the State stated that they were not in a position to form the Government (following withdrawal of support by the BJP to Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP Government), he said.
In his report to the Centre, the Governor clearly stated that there was no initiative by political parties to form an alternate government, the Home Minister said, adding that allegations are being heaped on us but “I want to make it clear that our intentions cannot be doubted’’.
Rajnath said he himself led an All Party Delegation to Jammu and Kashmir and some of the members even went to houses of the Hurriyat Conference leaders to talk to them but the separatists shut their doors.
“There was this perception that BJP leaders are against talking to Hurriyat… But when an All Party Delegation visiting the State asked us about talking to Hurriyat, we encouraged them to do that,” he said.
The Home Minister said he had told the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to try and speak to Hurriyat. “We were ready for unconditional talks. They did not respond to our initiative.”
He reeled out statistics on employment of locals in security forces to counter opposition charge that unemployment was creating unrest in the Valley.
“In 1995, there were 5,938 terrorist incidents while in 2017, the terror related incidents came down to just 342,” he said, adding it was the endeavour of the Government that there should not be a single act of terrorism.
He said this was not the first time that Governor’s rule had been imposed in the State. The state has been under President’s rule for six years in a row at one point of time. He was referring the period between 1990 and 1996 when the State was under President’s rule for about six years.
The Governor’s rule was imposed as no one came forward to form Government. “When after six months the Governor’s rule was ending, the Governor said he spoke to political parties once again and nobody had come forward to stake claim for forming a Government and so recommendation was made for President’s rule,” he said.
While Muslims not just in Jammu and Kashmir but all over the country whose number were more than those in Pakistan had decided to stay with India and not migrate at the time of partition, politics of appeasement has created a crisis, he said.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who intervened in the debate, blasted the Congress charge that the alienation in Kashmir was due to results of four year rule of BJP Government saying it was because of “wrong decisions’ of the Congress that generated alienation right from 1950.
“In 1950, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was martyred as he died in custody without being given medical aid. How the elections were conducted in 1957, 1962 and 1967 was nothing but a mockery as one Magistrate, Abdul Khaliq used to make the MLAs by rejecting nomination papers of others. And the numbers (of Khalid-made MLAs) was not confined to one or two but 25 or 27. Such type of farce elections were conducted in Jammu and Kashmir for several years and you are blaming us for alienation during four year rule,’’ Jaitley said in a major counter to the speech of Azad.
“You sowed seeds of alienation purely on political grounds and to stay in power,’’ Jaitley told Azad saying it was because of your follies that there had become two type of MLAs in J&K—one Janata MLAs and other Khaliq-made MLAs.
He recalled that for the first time in the history of independent India, free and fair elections were held in J&K in 1977 during Morarji Desai Government.
“As Sheikh Abdullah came to power, he was first arrested and then jailed. Later in 1976, Congress signed accord with Sheikh Abdullah but again had a fight with Farooq Abdullah in 1984 and BK Nehru, then Governor, had resigned instead of accepting the Centre’s dictate to topple Farooq Government.
“A new Governor was sent overnight. There was coup against Farooq Abdullah and Gul Shah Government was formed. The National Conference was broken. Shah used to give extremist statements,’’ Jaitley recalled and said the Congress again entered into accord with Farooq Abdullah in 1986, which lasted till 1989.
He said all these follies were responsible for alienation among the people.
“There was no administration…no governance…such was the situation that word India in SBI was hidden… there was no Central office working in the Valley. Mufti Sayeed’s daughter was kidnapped. This was the kind of alienation,’’ the Finance Minister said, adding it was the present Government, which conducted Panchayat elections in the State and created a new and strong 4500 men force in the Valley. He pointed out that it was during 2008 (when Azad was the Chief Minister) that stone pelting had started in the Valley as a new trend. Again there was upsurge in 2010 (when NC-Congress were in power), he pointed out.
Jaitley said the day the people decide to know the history that whose policies—Jawahar Lal Nehru or Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were right on Kashmir, the Congress will be in big problem.