The BJP and the Election Commission are equally responsible for the delay in holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said on Saturday, alleging that the Centre does not want democracy to flourish in the Union territory.
He defended the party's stand on India-Pakistan dialogue but said the onus also lies on Islamabad for creating an atmosphere conducive for the start of parleys.
"As long as the Election Commission is concerned, we are repeatedly asking for reasons why (assembly) elections are not taking place. Some months back, the chief election commissioner himself said there is a vacuum in J-K and that needs to be filled. Mostly they say they need to discuss the situation with the home ministry and the J-K government.
"If the Election Commission is not holding the polls that means it is not getting the approval and if that is the case, it means the BJP is not willing to hold the elections in J-K. We are holding both the BJP and the Election Commission guilty as they have responsibility to hold the elections here," the former chief minister told reporters after addressing a public rally at Nowshera in Rajouri district.
Asked about his party's stand on talks with Pakistan, he said, "We have not asked for the talks but it was BJP's tallest leader (and former prime minister) A B Vajpayee who asked for maintaining friendship with Pakistan by saying that 'you can change friends, not neighbours'.” Abdullah said he has always said that the onus for resumption of dialogue between the two countries lies with both of them. "Pakistan has to address our concerns for creating an atmosphere for the dialogue. What is wrong in saying this? We are not going for a sell-out." He said his party is repeating only what Vajpayee had said. "We are talking about democracy, humanity and Kashmiriyat. When we talk about democracy, we are repeating what Vajpayee left as inheritance with us. I don't see any wrong in repeating it." Earlier, addressing the public meeting, the NC leader alleged that democracy is being muzzled in Jammu and Kashmir.
"This is for the first time that I am seeing a government at the Centre which does not want democracy to flourish in J-K..." he said, adding that this government does not want the people to exercise their franchise and form a government of their choice.
He said Jammu and Kashmir assembly was over in 2018 and 2023 is also at its fag end but "democracy is nowhere to be seen" and added that much talked about grassroot democratic institutions like the panchayats and urban bodies have either finishing their tenure or completing by next month.
Highlighting the role of the NC, Abdullah said the party has always favoured flourishing of democratic institutions even at a time when Pakistan-sponsored terrorists were making all out attempts to finish the party by targeting its cadre.
"What is our fault that we did not fell for your slogans, not got divided on the name religion, kept alive the chants of 'Hindu-Muslim-Sikh' unity and did not allow the hatred to take its roots," he said, adding "our fault is that we believe that India is strong as long as different communities are united".
He took a dig at the JK administration for keeping around 6,500 posts vacant in police and thousands in other government departments and said "the reality is that this government has not benefited anyone".
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