Press Trust of india

Final electoral rolls: Political parties say studying details of new voters, want elections now

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Srinagar: A day after the final electoral roll of Jammu and Kashmir was published, political parties in Kashmir on Saturday said while they were studying the details about the addition of new voters, the Election Commission should now announce Assembly polls for the union territory.

The final electoral roll of Jammu and Kashmir was published on Friday with the highest-ever net addition of more than 7.72 lakh voters, officials said.

It has a total of 83,59,771 electors — 42,91,687 males,  40,67,900 females and 184 third gender — Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir Anil Salgotra had said.

National Conference (NC) spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said around seven lakh voters have been added and the party will have to see as to how many of them were those voters who have turned 18 from the last revision till now.

“We are studying the details of it, constituency-wise,” he said.

Sadiq, however, said, now that the whole process is over, the party expects the Election Commission (EC) to come out and talk about Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

“How long should the people of Jammu and Kashmir be deprived of a representative, responsive government? So, this is the first and foremost that the EC should come out and state about how soon they will hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

With the release of the final electoral roll, Sadiq also expressed hope that now the confusion and resulting apprehensions about the addition of 25 lakh new voters, as the then CEO of Jammu and Kashmir Hridesh Kumar had said in a press conference in August, will be put to rest.

“We also expect the whole confusion and the apprehensions of the people to be addressed,” he added.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it would be important to wait and see who these new voters are.

“How many of them are the people who were otherwise the state subjects and how many are those who acquired domicile certificates. These details are yet to come out. It will be very important to see that breakup,” party chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said.

On the question of Assembly elections, Suhail Bukhari said the present dispensation has “snatched all rights” from the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their democratic rights were not an exception.

“We really do not expect things from them, because they have been giving statements which are contradictory – on one hand saying the security situation has improved and is great, but, on the other saying, that once the situation improves, elections will be held, and then the statehood (will be restored),” he said.

Peoples Conference spokesman Adnan Ashraf Mir said as the final rolls were published only on Friday, “it will take us some time to study it before commenting over it”.

“We need to see whether the increased number is only of the people from Jammu and Kashmir who have attained the age of 18 years or is there any percentage of non-locals as well,” he said.

Mir said the party stands vindicated as it had said that the then CEO’s statement was factually incorrect and that it was not possible to add 25 lakh new voters.

“The CEO was only sort of trying to help the narrative of a particular party,” Mir said in an apparent reference to CEO Kumar.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said the final rolls were according to expectations.

“When a hue and cry was raised that 25 lakh new voters will be added, I had said the government should come clear on it and it had issued a clarification. So, an increase of 10 percent is not much of an addition and it is a matter of satisfaction that no outsider has been added,” Altaf Bukhari said.

He said the addition of young voters was a good thing because the youth have fresh thinking and will have a huge role in voting.

The former minister, however, said the final electoral rolls would have shut the mouths of those parties “who wait like vultures to evoke some controversies here so that the people worry and some incident takes place with them”.

On the Assembly elections, he said while the party expects the polls to be conducted now, “we do not know what the government thinks”.

Awami National Conference senior vice-president Muzaffar Shah said if the new voters were those from Jammu and Kashmir who have attained the age of 18 years, then there is no problem.

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