SRI NAGAR: The ruling National Conference (NC) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday expressed disappointment over the Election Commission’s announcement of the schedule for the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, while the NC ally, the Congress and other Opposition parties in the state welcomed it.
NC general secretary and Panchayat Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar said the party had opposed holding the elections at this point of time as people were battling the aftermath of the flood.
“This is the time to focus on relief and rehabilitation rather than going to the polls,” he said, adding,his party had clearly told the EC that the choice was between the people of the state and their sufferings on the one side and politics and elections on the other side.
He said unfortunately the NC had been reduced to a minority on the issue, with parties like the PDP and others preferring their craving for power over the sufferings of the people.
Sagar said the NC leaders had discussed the matter regarding participation of the party in the polls with its working president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other senior colleagues.
“The party top brass feels that though the time is not appropriate for the elections in the state, since the party has always been a votary of strengthening democracy and democratic values in the state it will participate in the polls,” he added.
While hailing the announcement of the poll schedule, senior Congress leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said a new government will have greater authority to deal with the post-flood situation in the state.
“Rehabilitation is a gigantic task under these circumstances. When we are neck deep in rescue and relief operations, one totally forgets when and how the elections will take place. But my personal opinion is sooner the election the better it is,” he said.
Azad said timely elections in the state will ensure speedy rehabilitation of the flood victims as the new government will start relief and rehabilitation operations afresh.
PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar welcomed the decision and said people in the Valley, including Srinagar, would vote in large numbers to “oust” Omar Government for its anti-people policies.
He said the NC had been giving a wrong impression that the people would not come to vote if polls were to be held on schedule.
The BJP also welcomed the announcement of the poll schedule.“It is a good decision. The party would take the state to new horizons of prosperity and development as the state has always been exploited by vested interests since 1947,” a BJP spokesperson said.
Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP termed the EC decision on polls as hasty. “It would have been better to hold the elections in May 2015, and the state should have been brought under Governor’s rule until then to ensure transparency in relief and rehabilitation work for the flood-affected people,” AAP leader Muzaffar Ahmad said.
He said the mood of the people, especially in the Valley, is totally against the elections as they are busy rebuilding their lives.
Over 72 lakh people would exercise their right to franchise in the five-phase polls for the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
“As many as 72.25 lakh electors in the state will exercise their franchise during the forthcoming Assembly elections,” J&K Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narulla said.