Srinagar: Political activity in Jammu and Kashmir has remained suspended since the scrapping of Article 370 in August. But the BJP has now geared up to initiate the process of holding organisational polls in Jammu and Kashmir, keeping in mind the assembly elections due in the union territory (UT).
The party has begun a similar process across India also.
In J&K, the BJP has directed its cadres to begin the process of organisational polls to elect booth presidents, district presidents and the UT president.
The elections are supposed to get over by 15 December, said BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir spokesperson Altaf Thakur.
The BJP has started the process of holding organisation polls at a time when regional parties in J&K — the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — are missing in action, with most of their leaders still under detention.
Across India, the BJP holds organisational polls every three years. BJP leaders in J&K said the importance of holding the organisational polls gained further importance owing to the fact that assembly elections are due.
J&K Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu had said earlier this month that assembly elections in the union territory would be held soon. Though there has been no official word yet on when the elections will be held, BJP leaders in Kashmir said they expect the first assembly elections of the union territory in 2021.
The BJP leaders also said they expect the process of delimitation to take place before the assembly elections.
Before the revocation of its special status and bifurcation, J&K had 87 assembly seats — 46 segments in Kashmir division, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the J&K assembly is supposed to have 90 seats, which includes 83 existing segments.
A commission to be set up by the central government is supposed to add seven more assembly segments, which include seats reserved for SCs/STs.
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‘Have already begun preparation for assembly polls’
Ashok Kaul, BJP’s general secretary in J&K, said the organisational elections are part of the activities that it is supposed to conduct in the run-up to the assembly elections.
He said the organisational elections are held every three years, but it got delayed this year owing to the Lok Sabha polls. The last time the organisational polls were held in J&K was in 2015.
In the first level of the organisational elections, party card-holders will elect booth presidents who will be responsible for micromanaging political activities and mobilising voters of four election booths each.
To be elected as a booth president, Thakur said, one needs to have a minimum of 25 votes of party card-holders.
The booth presidents will then elect constituency presidents, who will, in turn, elect district presidents. The district presidents will then elect the J&K president.
“We have already begun our preparation for the assembly polls and the internal elections in J&K are being conducted in the run-up to that (assembly polls). There is talk of conducting elections for vacant panch and sarpanch seats in J&K too. If that is the case, the internal polls will help the party conduct the affairs effectively in panchayat polls,” Kaul told ThePrint.
Kaul was referring to over 60 per cent seats that are vacant in Kashmir division after the NC and PDP boycotted last year’s panchayat polls.
Crime to be part of political process in Kashmir now: NC
NC spokesperson Sameer Kaul said “it would be a crime” to be a part of any political process in Kashmir.
“It is a crime to be a part of any political process in Kashmir where a clampdown has been enforced since 5 August. The civil administration in J&K and the BJP are one. They must have a blueprint and a game plan according to which they are working, while on the other hand, leaders and workers of other parties continue to be incarcerated,” he said.
“In such times, people of J&K should introspect and think about where we have gone wrong. The government has exploited our weaknesses, the contradictions in our discourses and the infighting. We have brought all this upon ourselves and we need to find a way out of it,” Kaul added.
Besides gearing up for organisational elections, the BJP is also promoting ‘Khelo Kashmir’, a three-day sports event inaugurated at Sher-i-Kashmir stadium Tuesday. This is the first sports-related event held in J&K after the Article 370 move.
A martial arts event was organised by an NGO, Jammu and Kashmir Development Foundation, at the stadium.
J&K BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna attended the event as a chief guest. He, however, said the event was not organised by the BJP.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan, Deputy Commissioner Shahid Chaudhary and Inspector General, CRPF, Ravideep Sahi also attended the event.
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