National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday called on the Centre and Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik to hold elections in the state, which has seen political turmoil since the precarious BJP-PDP alliance was dissolved last year. Abdullah's statements come a day before the scheduled Supreme Court hearing of the petitions challenging the contentious Article 35A of the Constitution.
Abdullah asserted that the new elected government would work towards "safeguarding" the provision of the Constitution which grants special status to the residents of the state and defines its permanent residents. The NC leader was quoted by ANI as saying, "The Centre and Governor have only one responsibility right now, and that is to hold elections. So, hold elections, let people take the decision, the new government will itself work towards safeguarding Article 35A."
Abdullah's comment came only a day after the Jammu and Kashmir administration said that its stance remained unchanged that only an elected government would be able to take a stand on the validity of the Article before the Supreme Court, which will hear a bunch of petitions against it from Tuesday onwards.
Abdullah also said that holding elections in the state will be a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of Kashmir over the last five years. He tweeted, "Will the Modi government bow before those forces of separatism and terror that have always sought to disrupt or delay polls in Jammu and Kashmir or will the polls take place on schedule? (This is) the moment of truth for Prime Minister Modi's handling of Kashmir over the last 5 years."
The former chief minister of the state was reacting to media reports that the Election Commission will take a call on holding Assembly polls together with the Lok Sabha election after a visit to the state this week. Abdullah said except for an odd by-election, all elections in Jammu and Kashmir since 1995-96 have been held as per schedule.
"Will Modi be able to keep to this schedule or will he accept he's totally mishandled Jammu and Kashmir? The next few days will give us the answer," he added.
On Sunday, senior bureaucrat Rohit Kansal, who has been designated as the chief spokesperson of the governor's administration was quoted by PTI as saying, "The stand of the state government on the request of deferment of hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court remains the same as requested by them on 11 February." He was replying to a question on whether there was a change in the stand of the governor's administration on the contentious issue.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration's counsel had sought permission from the apex court for circulating a letter among the contesting parties for adjourning the upcoming hearing, saying there was no "elected government" in the state.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 25, 2019 15:35:16 IST