SRINAGAR: National Conference, the ruling party in Jammu and Kashmir, is worried about its winning prospects if elections to the State Assembly are held as scheduled later this year and favours postponement of the polls.
The six-year term of J&K Assembly is nearing an end and election to 87-member house is scheduled to be held in November-December this year.
After the worst-ever floods ravaged Kashmir in the first week of September, the question mark hangs over the date of elections. Most of the political parties in the State including, Congress, coalition ally of ruling NC, favours holding of elections on due date.
However, NC has a different opinion and favours postponement of the Assembly elections. All of its senior leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is also working president of NC, have been advocating postponement of the polls saying “situation is not conducive for polls”.
Omar has gone to the extent of saying that there will be zero percentage of voting if elections are held on the due date as flood-affected people would need relief and shelter during winters and won’t come to vote.
According to government estimates, over three lakh structures including, residential houses, have been damaged by floods in the Valley and thousands of the people have been rendered homeless.
NC insiders said party is worried about its poll prospects and fear defeat if the Assembly elections are held on schedule.
“There is anger against Omar government in the Valley. Flood-affected people are angry that government has not done enough to mitigate their sufferings and provide relief and compensation to them,” they said.
They said people feel that government did not took enough measures to save the lives and property of the people. “There is a common perception among people that government left them to fend for themselves during the floods,” they said adding it is an admitted fact that government had been missing for first week of the floods.
“If the elections are held as per scheduled, then NC candidates are likely to face defeat in most of the constituencies in Valley, including its strong base in Srinagar due to prevailing anger among the people. People are accusing NC of everything from not allowing breaching embankements of river Jhelum to discrimination with dropping of aid, airlifting of people and meager compensation for flood victims,” a senior NC leader said.
He said NC wants deferment of the polls for at least couple of months so that party can get a “breathing space”.
He said Omar government is waiting for release of special package from central government to announce increase in relief and compensation for flood-affected people. “Besides, the party would make efforts to bridge the gap with the people”.
During their meeting with Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi in Srinagar on October 9, NC leaders had informed him that time was not ripe for holding elections as the atmosphere is not congenial due to devastation caused by floods and the trauma and shock the people are in.
“The party strongly feels that as of now the first priority should be relief, rehabilitation and welfare of the people and not the elections,” they had said adding an election is nowhere on the horizon of flood affected people at this stage and imposing an election on them will be playing with their emotions and sentiments.