PM Modi's remarks on statehood, early assembly polls in J-K evoke mixed reactions

June 21,2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement here on Thursday that assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held soon and plans are underway to restore its statehood in the near future evoked mixed reactions in the Union Territory.

While the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), and Apni Party welcomed the announcement, the main regional forces -- the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) -- reacted cautiously.

The Congress termed the announcement vague.

"We welcome PM Modi Ji's statement on conducting elections and restoring statehood in Jammu and Kashmir," the DPAP's chief spokesperson Salman Nizami said in a statement.

He said the recent participation of the people in the Lok Sabha elections indicates that people are "eager for change and are desperately waiting for an elected government".

"This has been a long-standing desire and demand of the people. The government must also ensure peace and the smooth conduct of elections to fulfil the aspirations of the citizens," Nizami added.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said the announcement is highly significant.

"People have been eagerly waiting for the fulfilment of the promise for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and their democratic right to choose their own representatives to place them at the helm. PM's announcement has brought a wave of hope and cheer," he said on X.

NC chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said the Election Commission of India (ECI) must follow the Supreme Court's timeline for the conduct of the assembly polls.

"Just so you know, the ECI must follow the Supreme Court's timeline for elections, while the government's sole responsibility is to ensure a peaceful election atmosphere," Sadiq said in a post on X.

In December last year, while giving its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the Centre's August 5, 2019, decision of abrogating Article 370, the Supreme Court directed the ECI to conduct elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 30 this year.

On the assurance of Prime Minister Modi on the restoration of the statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, the NC chief spokesperson said the people of the Union Territory (UT) have been hearing it for four years now.

"Regarding statehood, we have heard it will be restored 'soon' over 20 times in four years. Spoiler: 'soon' is still nowhere near," Sadiq said.

PDP chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari also said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been hearing about the conduct of assembly polls and restoration of statehood for the past few years but will believe it only when it happens.

"We have been hearing this for the past five years. We will believe it when it happens. They talk about elections and statehood in a way as if they are doing a favour to us by granting our democratic rights," he said.

Senior vice president and chief spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC), Ravinder Sharma, said the prime minister was "vague as usual" regarding the timeline of the restoration of statehood and holding assembly polls.

"PM vague as usual regarding the timing of the restoration of statehood, assembly polls, deteriorated security situation, joblessness, lack of investments on ground and what about incomplete projects inaugurated last time," Sharma said in a post on X.

Prime Minister Modi said on Thursday that assembly elections will be held soon in Jammu and Kashmir and plans are underway to restore statehood to the Union Territory in the near future.

In his first visit to the Valley after becoming prime minister for the third consecutive term, Modi emphasised the importance of enabling the people of Jammu and Kashmir to elect their representatives for the assembly.

In his address at a gathering at SKICC 'Empowering Youth, Transforming J and K', he commended the people for their active participation in the Lok Sabha elections and expressed the need for them to choose their local leaders through upcoming assembly elections.

"The people of Jammu and Kashmir participated in Lok Sabha elections in large numbers and broke the record of the past 35 years. You deserve to be felicitated for it...

"Now the time has come that the people of Jammu and Kashmir chose their own local representatives. For that, preparations are being made for holding assembly elections," he said.

Furthermore, Modi assured the people that the day was approaching when Jammu and Kashmir would regain its statehood.