Political parties in Jammu & Kashmir appear to be divided over the proposal of “one nation, one election” mooted by the Government of India for holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
At an all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in New Delhi to discuss the proposal of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party seemed divided on the matter.
Treading a cautious path over the proposal, NC president Farooq Abdullah called for thorough examination of the idea.
“The idea is good provided it doesn’t undermine the federal structure of India. Consensus on this important issue is imperative and all the political parties must examine the issue threadbare,” Farooq told the all parties meet.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti appeared to be averse to the proposal of simultaneous polls.
“India is defined by its diversity in culture, in linguistics, in eating and living habits and therefore politically also this diversity should be allowed to thrive,” she told the meeting.
Peoples Conference said the idea needs to be deliberated upon to examine its pros and cons. “It is a new idea and we don’t know about its content. There is no clarity on what do in case of premature dissolution of Assembly,” Abdul Gani Vakil, vice-president, Peoples Conference, told Greater Kashmir.
Founder and patron of Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) Er Rashid said the idea is not bad and should be discussed with all stakeholders. “The government should take all stakeholders on board before arriving at any decision on the proposal,” he said.
He, however, added that New Delhi should hold Assembly elections at an earliest to restore democracy in the state.
CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami termed the proposal as “undemocratic” and “impracticable”.
“The reasons advanced for holding election to reduce expenditure and to ensure better governance by holding simultaneous elections. If you fix five year simultaneous term for both Lok Sabha and State Assembly, it means there cannot be midterm election. In such a situation, Governor cannot dissolve Assembly if the government reduces to minority,” he said.
Noted political commentator and former vice-chancellor of IUST Prof Siddiq Wahid said the proposal won’t have impact on the dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“On the face of it, it does not really impact the issues surrounding the dispute over the State of J&K. However, it does seem to point to a will towards a presidential system of governance, which is a system more vulnerable to supporting personality cults,” he said.
TERM OF J&K ASSEMBLY
While other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term, J&K assembly has a six-year term.
As per original scheme, Jammu and Kashmir Assembly had a five-year term. It was extended to six years in the late seventies by amending section 52 of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution to establish parity with what was done by the 42nd constitutional Act in case of other Assemblies and Lok Sabha.
Through 42nd amendment Act, Indira Gandhi-led government extended the term of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies members from five to six years.
The amendment was reversed in 1978 by Moraji Desai-led government to restore term of other state assemblies and Lok Sabha to five years. However, the Jammu and Kashmir government did not reverse the amendment made by it in its own constitution.
Among all political parties, the state BJP is in favour of reducing term of Assembly from six years to five years.
In the past, CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami and Panthers Party leader Harshdev Singh had also submitted private member bills in the Assembly to reduce term of Assembly to five years.
A senior official in J&K’s Law department, requesting anonymity, said implementation of the proposal would require amendments in both the Constitution of India and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Jammu and Kashmir assembly has to decide whether the State will be part of “one nation, one election plan” because the term of Assembly is governed by the J&K constitution. In case of other states, Parliament has the authority,” he said.
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