JAMMU: Surprised announcement of government on allowing registration of non locals to secure eligibility for voting rights in elections of Jammu and Kashmir has set certain political parties on boil who branded the move as a well calculated plan of BJP led centre government to change “demography” and destroy the social and cultural fabric of erstwhile state.
While this development has set temper high among regional political parties, the main opposition party Indian National Congress and leadership in Jammu region is conspicuous by their absence in reacting to the major decision of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K which have far reaching implications in swinging the outcome of likely elections in the foreseeable future.
Reacting to the development, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said the real aim behind the move is to tilt the balance in BJP’s favor. “GOIs decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to dis-empower locals,” tweets Mufti.
Hitting at the BJP, Mufti further alleged that J&K has become a laboratory for ruling party. They conduct experiment here and then implement it in other places. All this is being done in the garb of the so-called integration of J&K with India,” she said.
Further bashing the BJP, she said “BJP believes only in one objective i.e to form the government by resorting to any method and this announcement whereby 25 lakhs non-locals which are nothing but BJP’s voters would become eligible to cast their votes in the next J&K elections. The requirement of domicile is not necessary for outsiders to get enlisted as voters. He has also said that armed forces personnel from other states who are posted at peace stations in J&K can also get their names added in the voter list.
Expressing his dismay over the decision, Omar Abdullah of National Conference accused BJP of seeking backdoor entry into J&K by bringing in non-local voters. “Is the BJP so insecure about support from genuine voters of J&K that it needs to import temporary voters to win seats? None of these things will help the BJP when the people of J&K are given a chance to exercise their franchise,” he tweeted.
The BJP, however, welcomed the decision and termed it a great step by the Election Commission of India (ECI). “This is a great step by the ECI. Unfortunately, regional parties are feeling the heat of the real democracy,” BJP state spokesman Altaf Thakur said.
Jammu J&K’s chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar during a press conference on Wednesday said that non-locals working in Kashmir can vote in J&K, only they have to cancel votes in their native states. “After the abrogation of Article 370, many new voters can add their names in the list who are ordinarily living in J&K and working here as labourers, students or people doing business here”, Kumar said.
Meanwhile, Sunil Dimple, local leader from Jammu city who is known for vociferously demanding restoration of statehood in J&K besides opposing the functioning of LG administration as well as PM Modi expressing his annoyance said “ECI Decision of allowing enrollment of the outsider as voters in J&K voter lists is not acceptable to the people of J&K. This is big “conspiracy” to “change demography” as well as destroy our history, identity, culture and pride of erstwhile J&K state, says Dimple.