Parliament nod to President’s Rule in J&K, Rajnath says open for polls with Lok Sabha elections (Roundup)

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New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Parliament on Thursday approved imposition of Presidents Rule in Jammu and Kashmir with Home Minister Rajnath Singh stating that the government will have no objection if the Election Commission (EC) decides to hold Assembly polls in the state along with the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The Rajya Sabha on Thursday approved the proclamation of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir which has already been okayed by the Lok Sabha last week.

Replying to a debate which saw both Congress and BJP members targeting each other, Rajnath Singh said that the government would meet all security needs sought by the Election Commission.

“If the Election Commission wants, we won’t have any objection to it,” he said while responding to a query by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Azad had sought to know whether the government is ready to conduct simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly in Jammu & Kashmir.

“It is Election Commission’s job to hold elections. But I would like to assure the House that we do not have any objection (to holding polls in Jammu & Kashmir). We are ready to provide whatever security support the Election Commission wants,” Rajnath Singh added.

The Minister also refuted allegations levelled by opposition parties that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was earlier trying to form a government in the state.

“No one should doubt the government’s intentions. There was no conspiracy,” he said.

Participating in the debate, Finance Minister Arun Jailtey said that mistakes made by the Congress had led to alienation among people in Kashmir and rejected its charge that the process had started in the last four and half years.

He asserted that when history gives its verdict on the viewpoint of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and that of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the ideologue of the Jana Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor, the Congress will feel the pain.

He also defended BJP forming alliance with the PDP in the state to run a coalition government.

Jaitley said there “is a history of alienation, there are policies” and noted that assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir for successive years including in 1957, 1962 and 1967 were not fair and Congress had also indulged in destabilising governments.

“If elections are held in such manner, it will sow seeds of alienation. The people of the state felt they do not have right to contest polls. This is the politics you did to stay in power,” he said.

He questioned Nehru government’s decision to go for ceasefire during the invasion of Kashmir in 1947 when Indian troops were moving forward and claimed that the announcement was made without proper consultations with then Home Minister Sardar Patel.

He also questioned the assurance given by Nehru government on a plebiscite in Kashmir saying it had “hung around our neck like an albatross.”

He said Congress cannot “whitewash its historical mistakes” in Kashmir as they are part of history now.

Jaitley said people of the Valley still recall that the first free and fair elections in the state were held after Morarji Desai became prime minister in 1977.

“You had put all your eggs in one basket,” he said, and added that the Congress government had to change its policy and arrest the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah.

He said the Indira-Sheikh Abdullah agreement was reached in 1975 but disagreements soon cropped up.

The minister said that the then state Governor B.K. Nehru refused to play the Centre’s game to destabilise the Farooq Abdullah government in 1984 and stepped down. He said a new governor was appointed and a new government was formed by splitting the National Conference.

Jaitley said Congress again joined hands with Farooq Abdullah in 1986 and ran a government till 1989 which caused “so much alienation which the valley had never seen”.

Jaitley targeted the Congress over the death of Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder S P Mookerjee in custody, saying he gave away his life due to “barriers you erected”.

The minister said it would be better not to indulge in blame-game. It was necesssary to learn from the mistakes made in the past and work for peace and progress.

Initiating the debate, Azad said if people of the Valley who fought against the Pakistani intruders in 1947 had chosen to remain with India were “unhappy with us today, then I think somewhere we 130 crore Indians have faulted”.

“We have made mistakes. Should those mistakes not be corrected? The year 2014 should be the benchmark as to where we had le”t Kashmir and where it is now,” he said.

Azad, a former chief minister, said Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits who left the Valley in fear. “They are our blood and a part of our blood has gone away from us.”

He said the state governor has made as many as 55 amendments in various laws. “Is this right? you would not Is it not the elected government’s right to amend laws?”

Trinamool Congress member Derek O’Brien said the government should give an assurance that elections in Kashmir would be held now or latest with the Lok Sabha polls.

He also raised questions over the role of the Governor. “The government that talks of Digital India cannot even handle fax machines. Are Raj Bhawans becoming branch offices of the government at the Centre?” he asked.

“Nationalism is not the copyright of one party. Heal Kashmir. It’s a heaven. My appeal to the government is please don’t turn it into a hell,” he said.

NCP member Majeed Memon said other parties should have been allowed to form government in the state after the BJP had withdrawn support to the PDP.

Governor’s rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in June after none of the political parties came forward to stake claim to form the government following BJP’s withdrawal of support to the PDP-led government.

Then Governor N.N. Vohra weighed all the options available before the political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, but they did not express intention to form the government, he added.

President’s Rule was imposed in the state last month.



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