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PM Modi Assures Elections in J&K at the Earliest, Says Govt Will be of the People, By the People and For the People

PM Modi Assures Elections in J&K at the Earliest, Says Govt Will be of the People, By the People and For the People

Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since June last year, when the BJP had pulled out of its coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP.

New Delhi: After the Centre took away the status of a state from Jammu and Kashmir this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday assured that elections in the now Union Territory of J&K will be held at the earliest.

By promising a government that is of the people, by the people, for the people, Modi reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through a special televised address and assured that despite losing autonomy and special status, the region will continue to have a voice and representation by local leaders.

“Just like there used to be MLAs before, there will be in future. Just like there was a cabinet before, so there will be in future. The chief minister's post will also continue," Modi said.

Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since June last year, when the BJP had pulled out of its coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). After six months of Governor’s rule, the state was put under President’s rule in December last year, ensuring that the Centre continues to call the shots.

Polls were expected to be held in May along with the Lok Sabha elections, which were held in J&K, but security reasons were cited as the reason for not holding them.

The inordinate delay also gave the ruling BJP its window of opportunity to move to effectively scrap Article 370 of the Constitution without consultation of a state government.

Since there is no elected government in place at this time, the presidential order that ended the special status stated that the Governor shall exercise the powers of the elected government and will express the will of the state legislature in making recommendations to the President in relation to Article 370.

Modi further said that with the nullification of Article 370, and by extension Article 35A – which allowed the state to define permanent residents – the elections will have greater representation as people who were not allowed to vote earlier will also have a say in choosing the government.

“You will be surprised to know that thousands and lakhs of people in J&K voted for the Lok Sabha elections but could not vote for the state elections, municipal elections and gram panchayat elections,” the PM said.

Assuring that the election will be free and fair, Modi said that just as the “panchayat elections were conducted with transparency, so will the assembly elections”.

With Jammu and Kashmir now being a Union Territory with a legislature, it will now follow the ‘Delhi model’ of governance, wherein the Centre will have the final say in most of the important affairs, including land and policing.

Modi, although, assured that the UT status for Jammu and Kashmir was temporary and it will be given back statehood once the situation improves in the region. Expressing confidence that with greater cooperation with the Centre the new model will bring, he said that terrorism and separatism will come to an end.