Chidambaram terms Centre’s polls first policy for J&K ‘bizarre’

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Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in a series of tweets on Friday, said it is ‘bizarre’ that the Centre wants to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir first and grant statehood later.

Mr. Chidambaram said the Congress and other parties in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) want statehood first and elections later.

“Congress and other J&K parties and leaders want Statehood first and Elections afterward. Government’s response is Elections first and Statehood later. The horse pulls the cart. A State must conduct elections. Only such elections will be free and fair. Why does the government want the cart in front and the horse behind? It is bizarre,” he added.

His comments come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with 14 political leaders from J&K in a first outreach after the erstwhile State was buifrcated and downgraded into a Union Territory (UT) on August 5, 2019.

Echoing Mr. Chidambaram, his party colleague, Kapil Sibal tweeted, “Modiji’s Kashmir policy: Ally with PDP. Break alliance. Impose Governor’s Rule. No elections. No Assemblies. Divide State into two. Abrogate 370. Promises in Parliament. Put leaders in jail. Welcome them in PMO. Polls first, Statehood later!”.

On Thursday, Mr. Modi had told the leaders that the Centre is committed to strengthening grassroots democracy in J&K for which delimitation — the process of redrawing of boundaries of legislative constituencies — has to completed quickly so that polls can be held.

Home Minister Amit Shah informed the leaders at the meeting that the delimitation exercise and holding of peaceful elections in the UT are important milestones in restoring Statehood.

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