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Centre, state BJP not on same page over simultaneous polls

In the last elections, owing to the aggressive election push of PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, the party swept the Jammu region ensuring that it was the second largest party.

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Centre, state BJP not on same page over simultaneous polls
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The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP is at loggerheads with the Union Home Ministry and security agencies over the issue of holding simultaneous polls in the state. While the MHA and security agencies are of the view that holding simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha and state assembly in April-May will ensure a respectable turnout as will require frugal security paraphernalia, the BJP's J&K unit feels the party's star campaigners -- PM Modi and party president Amit Shah -- will not be able to give sufficient time to campaign in the state.

Sources in the MHA said a plan was being made to conduct an eight-phase exercise to hold both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls together. But the "hitch" they have hit upon is that ruling BJP in the Centre and the state unit are not on the same page. In the last elections, owing to the aggressive election push of PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, the party swept the Jammu region ensuring that it was the second largest party.

In the last few days, the MHA has held elaborate meetings with the security grid, which were presided over by Union Home secretary Rajiv Gauba. Sources said in the meetings, various security agencies said they have enough numbers on the ground to ensure a peaceful exercise. These meetings were a follow up to a letter sent out by Election Commission seeking inputs from the security agencies about the prevailing situation in the state, especially Kashmir.

What is interesting is that the idea of holding simultaneous polls to ensure a good turn out was in fact mooted by a senior Congress leader, which saw home minister Rajnath Singh agree to the proposition readily. The Congress leader suggested that people in Kashmir are historically least interested in the Lok Sabha polls and if they are held separately, they will witness "embarrassingly low participation", especially in three seats of Kashmir Valley. This input was conveyed by the Home Minister to Prime Minister Modi as well.

"If Election Commission wants (to hold elections in the state along with general elections), our government will have no objection," Home Minister Rajnath Singh had told the parliament on January 4. "We are willing to provide whatever security force Election Commission wants for holding elections there."

Sunil Sethi, chief spokesman of the BJP's J&K unit, said they are waiting for the leadership's directive. "It is not up to the party to decide, we will all have to wait for the order from the Election Commission," Sethi told DNA.

(with inputs from Ishfaq-ul-Hassan)

Why Jt polls?

  • The idea of simultaneous polls was in fact mooted by a senior Congress leader
  • Home minister Rajnath Singh agreed to the proposition readily. 
  • The Congress leader suggested J&K people  are historically least interested in LS polls
  • He said separate polls will witness embarrassingly low participation
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