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Jammu & Kashmir: Farooq Abdullah holds all-party meet amid row over inclusion of non-local voters

NC president Farooq Abdullah had called the meeting to discuss the issue of the "inclusion of non-local voters" in the electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Reported By : Manzoor Mir Edited By : Paras Bisht
Srinagar
Updated on: August 22, 2022 11:29 IST
Farooq Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah holds all party meet, JK all party meet, PM Modi, Jammu and Kashmir
Image Source : PTI Jammu & Kashmir National Conference President Farooq Abdullah speaks to the media in New Delhi.

Highlights

  • National Conference held an all-party meeting in Srinagar on Monday
  • Parties discussed issue of "inclusion of non-local voters" in revised electoral rolls in J&K
  • Govt said report of likely addition of voters is a "misrepresentation of facts by vested interests"

The National Conference held an all-party meeting in Srinagar on Monday to discuss the issue of the "inclusion of non-local voters" in the revised electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir. Parties like the NC and PDP claimed the administration has not addressed their main concern on whether ''outsiders'' ordinarily residing in J-K will be allowed to enrol as voters and the meeting will discuss the clarification issued by the administration on the matter.

NC president Farooq Abdullah had called the meeting to discuss the issue of the "inclusion of non-local voters" in the electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir after remarks related to the addition of voters in the revised rolls by the UT's Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar raised hackles of the regional parties. 

The government on Saturday issued a clarification, saying the reports of a likely addition of over 25 lakh voters after the summary revision of electoral rolls is a "misrepresentation of facts by vested interests". The Kashmiri migrants "will continue to be given the option of voting at their place of enrolment or through postal ballot or through specially set up polling stations at Jammu, Udhampur, Delhi, etc," it said. "This revision of electoral rolls will cover existing residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the increase in numbers will be of voters who have attained the age of 18 years as of October 1, 2022, or earlier," it said.

Mainstream political parties have alleged that the "inclusion of non-locals was a clear-cut ploy to disenfranchise the people of Jammu and Kashmir". However, even after the clarification, the political parties will go ahead with the all-party meeting convened by the NC president at his residence.

“The ‘clarification’ issued by DIPR is a silent endorsement of the statement given by the Chief Election Officer. Doesn’t address our apprehensions about non-locals en masse being given the power to vote. Yet another design to dispossess people of J&K,” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Also Read | Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti asks all pandits to leave valley after another killing

The National Conference also said the clarification does not address whether "outsiders" residing on J-K can vote or not. The clarification was issued through an advertisement in local dailies after a political backlash. PDP chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said the all-party meeting will be held as scheduled and everything, even the clarification issued by the government, will be discussed. 

He said it was no less than the chief electoral officer who made the remarks on the inclusion of nonlocals. The Congress party on Saturday said its representatives will also attend the meeting. AICC in-charge J-K, Rajani Patil, told reporters that the party opposes the inclusion of non-locals in the electoral rolls and was mulling taking a legal course as well against the government’s move. 

BJP chalks out strategy against NC-led all-party meet 

The BJP also convened a meeting of its leaders to chalk out a “counter-strategy” against the meeting called by the National Conference. J-K BJP president Ravinder Raina has called the meeting of senior leaders at the party headquarters. He said the meeting is being held to chalk out a “counter-strategy” against the "all-party" meeting called by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar over the issue of inclusion of non-local voters in the revised electoral rolls in the Union Territory.

Sajad Lone's Peoples Conference opts out of meeting called by NC over J-K voter list

The People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone has opted out of the all party meeting. “If this effort (all party meeting) was serious, it would not be held under media gaze. Had it been serious, we would have met and you (media) would not even know about it. I don’t agree with the politics of Farooq Abdullah but I have immense respect for him,” Lone told reporters. He said the meeting seemed to be a point-scoring exercise and he would not want to be a part of it.

“One lady (Mehbooba Mufti) says call an all party meeting and the other makes (phone) calls for it. Also tell me, how much can we pretend? We abuse each other politically 24 hours a day. I have hurled abuses at them yesterday, they have done it day before. How long can we pretend that everything is hunky dory,” he said. “Mehboobaji, desperate to retrieve her (lost) ground, issues diktat for calling all party meeting.... 

Maharaja Hari Singh’s era has long gone by,” he added.

Lone, however, said if anything concrete came out of the meeting, his party will support it wholeheartedly and expected reciprocal attitude from the participants in the meeting for his efforts to deal with the issue of non-local voters.

Referring to the clarification of the union territory administration on the issue of non-local voters, the former minister, who was an ally of the BJP from 2014 to 2018, said, “We neither accept nor reject the clarification in totality.” “We will wait till 1st October when the draft electoral rolls are published. If there is any wrongdoing, we will hit the streets, not only here but in front of all constitutional institutions of the country like Parliament. This battle cannot be fought here...we have to make people of India aware about what is happening,” he added.

Also Read | Jammu & Kashmir: Pakistani intruder arrested near LoC in Rajouri

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