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Centre ready to hold elections in JK: Rajnath

New Delhi, Dec 28: The Government of India Friday said in the Lok Sabha that there was no other option left with the Governor but to recommend President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir as no party or alliance staked claim to form government and asserted that it was ready to hold assembly polls in the state.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the government was prepared for elections in the state at any time.

He added that if the Election Commission would decide to hold polls, the Home Ministry would offer requisite security for the conduct of “free and fair” polls.

He said this as part of a discussion on a statutory motion on the proclamation issued by the President in December, 2018, under Article 356 of the Constitution in relation to Jammu and Kashmir.

The discussion took place after the statutory motion was passed rather than before it.

Rajnath defended the Governor saying there seemed to be no clear move on the part of any potential alliance to stake claim to form the government.

He said that in June then Governor N.N. Vohra had written to the President that the BJP had no intention to form the government after withdrawing support to the PDP.

He had also written that the Jammu and Kashmir Congress president and they told him the party did not have the requisite numbers to form the government on its own or with any other party.

“Governor’s rule was imposed but the Assembly was not dissolved so that another alliance could form the government. But no political party staked a claim and the Governor had to send his report for President’s rule,” Rajnath said, adding that while he had read newspaper reports of the PDP, NC and the Congress wishing to form a government, the Congress’ leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had denied it.

National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, however, said that the PDP was willing to form a government and the NC, and even the Congress, had agreed to support them.

“This government’s intention should not be doubted,” the Home Minister said.

“If we wanted another government to be formed, we could have done so in six months. As for the Kashmir problem solution, it is an old problem. All Indians want a solution. The people of Kashmir are our own people. I have repeatedly said that I want a solution with the help of all. We also took all-party delegations. I said we have no problem talking to anyone who wants to talk.”

He added, “Some said they want to meet secessionist leaders. They went and had to return. I don’t want to discuss that here.”

“At one time, Kashmir situation was tense but we are trying our best to improve it and strengthen grass-roots democracy through local polls,” Rajnath claimed. “We are giving administrative and financial powers to those elected as local bodies’ representatives.”

Should put to rest motivated speculation: Omar

Srinagar, Dec 28: National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah Friday welcomed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in the Lok Sabha that the Centre was ready for assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

“An important assurance on the floor of the house in the Lok Sabha. This should put to rest the motivated speculation that elections in the state will happen only after the general elections,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

Replying to a discussion on the resolution on a presidential proclamation about imposition of President’s Rule in the state, the Union home minister said the government is ready for assembly polls but the decision has to be taken by the Election Commission.

“We are totally committed to democratic process,” Singh said.

CEO meets Guv Malik

Jammu, Dec 28: Shailendra Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer, Friday met Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan here.

Governor, as per the Raj Bhavan spokesperson, emphasized the importance of generating awareness of electoral process and that how every vote matters, among public.

“Expressing satisfaction on the recent conduct of polls to Panchayatas and Urban Local Bodies, Governor hoped that people will participate with same enthusiasm in every electoral exercise,” the spokesperson said.

Kumar, he added, briefed the Governor about the various initiatives taken for educating voters to exercise their franchise by including them in Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) activities, Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) which are being set up in educational institutions in the State in a bid to encourage youth to exercise their franchise and educating public about use of EVM-VVPAT (Voter verifiable paper audit trail) and progress achieved till date in Special Summary Revision of Electoral Rolls.