With a majority of the candidates declared elected unopposed in the urban local bodies elections in south Kashmir, the Congress on Wednesday accused the BJP of “importing” nominees and making a mockery of the grassroots-level democracy.
The BJP, however, termed the charges as “baseless and unfounded” and rubbished the allegations as the Congress’ attempt to hide its failure to field candidates in Kashmir.
Facing the heat for making it a virtual walkover for the BJP in the south Kashmir by not fielding candidates in most of the seats, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief GA Mir pointed out on Wednesday that “importing” candidates from outside the Valley just to file nominations was nothing but a mockery of democracy.
“Ninetynine per cent of the BJP candidates, who have won the election unopposed, are ‘outsiders’ living in the Jammu region. They were taken to Srinagar under security cover to file nominations,” Mir told Kashmir Post.
As reported exclusively by Kashmir Post, the Congress high command had recently sought an explanation from Mir and other senior leaders for making it easy for the BJP in south Kashmir.
Mir also blamed the state government and the Centre for not creating a conducive atmosphere for conducting free and fair elections in the militancy-plagued south Kashmir. The party observed that it was due to militant threats that aspirants could not come forward to file their nominations in the extra-sensitive areas.
“How can one join the electoral battle in an atmosphere gripped with fear psychosis, uncertainty and chaos?” asked Mir.
“In 177 wards in Valley, no nomination has been filed. The apprehensions and concerns raised by the Congress stand validated,” Mir said while hastening to add that the Congress has never opposed the elections but only wanted a congenial atmosphere wherein everybody could join the fray without fear and terror.
Meanwhile, countering the allegation, BJP general secretary and in charge of the Kashmir Valley Narinder Singh took a dig at the Congress for its failure to nominate candidates. “Most of the candidates elected unopposed from south Kashmir are natives of the places from where they have filed the nominations,” said Singh.
“In the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, we have fielded 70 local Muslims,” Singh said while pointing out that the Congress had failed to get candidates even in the peaceful Jammu region.
Legal to contest in any ward
As per the Jammu-Kashmir Municipal Act 2002, any person who is enrolled in the electoral rolls of the urban local bodies is eligible to contest the elections in any ward of the state. The contestant has to provide the voter ID card number while filing the paper.