Congress accuses Centre, erstwhile BJP-PDP govt in JK of ‘spoiling’ state’s atmosphere

Congress accuses Centre, erstwhile BJP-PDP govt in JK of ‘spoiling’ state’s atmosphere
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New Delhi, Oct 11: The Congress on Thursday accused the Centre and the erstwhile BJP-PDP government in Jammu and Kashmir of “spoiling” the atmosphere in the state and held them responsible for the current situation there, where people are “afraid” to cast their vote.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from the state, said this was not the first time that voter turnout in municipal polls in the Kashmir Valley has been low compared to that in the Jammu region.
Senior party leader Ambika Soni alleged that the state and central governments are squarely responsible for the current situation and for bringing the state to a level where the “fear of bullet forced people not to cast their vote”.
The two leaders claimed the previous Congress-NC government in Jammu and Kashmir had helped normalise the situation and people had been coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
But the erstwhile BJP-PDP government and the Centre has brought the situation to that prevailing in the early 1990s, they alleged.
“The Central government spoiled the entire atmosphere in the Kashmir Valley and took us back to the early nineties.
“So I squarely hold the Centre India responsible for this, for creating a situation where people are afraid to go to the polling stations,” Azad told reporters after former PDP MLC Vikramaditya Singh, the son of ex-Union minister Karan Singh, joined the Congress.
The second phase of the municipal polls in the state on Wednesday, saw 78.6 per cent of over 1.28 lakh voters exercising their franchise in Jammu, while in Kashmir region 3.4 per cent of 2.20 lakh electorate cast their votes.
The low voter turnout in Kashmir was in line with a meagre 8.3 per cent turnout in the Valley during the first phase of the election.
Azad said this was not the first time that there was a huge gap between Kashmir and Jammu regions in terms of voter turnout.
“This is not first time since we had militancy, which has been for almost three decades. In between, of course, things had improved when we were in power. After the BJP and the PDP formed a coalition government, things went from bad to worse.
“So, for this we shouldn’t be held responsible, the Centre and the BJP should be held responsible for worsening the condition of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
On being asked about holding simultaneous polls for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the Lok Sabha, Soni, who is AICC general secretary in-charge of party affairs in the state, said the Congress has fought elections despite tough situations.
“We congratulate all the candidates, but that doesn’t change the scenario there… With what face or how are they (BJP) going to convince the people that the law-and-order situation is in full control. We will assess it after this election,” she said.