Idea to reduce term of Assembly triggers hot political debate in JK

Idea to reduce term of Assembly triggers hot political debate in JK

Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Jun 21: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of one nation, one election, has triggered a serious political debate across Jammu and Kashmir with political parties trying to find out whether it was possible in a state that enjoys special status by virtue of article 370.
The National Conference believes only State Legislature has the powers to change the term of Assembly from six to five years while as BJP links the move with “cost cutting exercise”.
Political experts see the PM Modi’s idea as another attempt to erode the Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy and the special status that has bore the brunt since 1975-Indhira-Abdullah accord followed the successive regimes of Congress at the Centre that tore apart the autonomous character of the State confining it to article 370 and article 35 A. “If the one nation, one election becomes a reality, the term of J&K Assembly will be reduced to five years from six years. J&K is the only state where the term of Assembly is six years while as rest of the country have all assemblies in the States with five year term,” a senior political analyst said.
“The fact is the government led by PM Modi at Centre have clear intentions to integrate J&K state fully into the union of India. First they have started with the idea of one nation, one election that will bring J&K Assembly at par with the rest of Indian states by coining the idea of “one nation, one election”.
The PM Modi had convened an All Party Meeting in New Delhi on June 19 to deliberate on the issue and it is believed that out of 40 parties invited a close to 30, who participated in the meeting backed PM Modi’s idea of one nation, one election. NC patron and the newly elected Member Parliament Dr Farooq Abdullah told the APM that the “idea should be examined and that it should not affect the federal structure.” Farooq’s guarded response somehow suggest that he and his party was not totally averse to PM’s idea of one nation, one election as he didn’t right away oppose the very idea and instead suggested to examine it.
Talking to a news agency General Secretary National Conference Ali Muhammad Sagar said that the idea of one nation, one election can only be a reality in J&K if a constitutional amendment is brought to the State Legislature and the same is passed with the majority. “Reducing the term of Assembly from six to five years is possible only when State Assembly passes the amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
“Since constituent assembly is not in place, the sole prerogative lies with the state Assembly,” he said.
A Congress leader said that the party will first study the possibility of reducing the terming of State Assembly and then react. “We will discuss the issue first,” he said.
BJPs state spokesman Altaf Thakur said that the only purpose was to hold polls in one as it would help reduce election expenses and bring at par all the states. “What has it to do with the special status,” he said. (KNS)