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When will Assembly polls be held in J&K, Congress asks PM Modi

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“Where is the ‘development and progress’ that PM Modi had promised?”

New Delhi:  With Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a rally in Udhampur, the Congress accused the BJP-led Centre on Friday of suspending democracy in the Union Territory and asked it when the Assembly polls will be held there.

In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said while the prime minister was in Udhampur, in its attempt to retain power in the erstwhile state, the BJP-led government has suspended almost all tiers of democracy and refuses to hold fresh elections.

“PM Modi must answer for his suspension of democracy,” Ramesh said while posing several questions to the prime minister.

He said the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has been under the Centre’s direct rule ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government in 2018, citing a “deteriorating security situation”.

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been left without an elected government since then. Four seats in the Rajya Sabha also remain vacant because of the delay in holding assembly polls. The Centre has often blamed the Election Commission of India for the delay in holding elections but now the Chief Election Commissioner has turned around and blamed the Centre for the delay after 2022’s delimitation exercise,” the former Union minister said on the microblogging platform.

He added that eventually, the Supreme Court had to step in and give the Centre a deadline of September 2024 to conduct the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Why has the BJP waited so long to conduct polls in the state? Are they afraid of the verdict of the people? How long will the PM cling to power in a state where the people never chose him as their leader?” Ramesh asked.

He said the terms of 4,892 panchayats and 316 block development councils (the second and third tiers of Panchayati Raj) in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end on January 9 and with the tenures of the urban local bodies having ended in November last year, the people of the Union Territory no longer have elected representatives at most levels of governance.

“Once again, the ruling BJP has been unwilling to hold fresh elections in the state. Why has PM Modi so ruthlessly suppressed the will of the people?” the Congress leader asked.

Ramesh said in his speech in Parliament on December 11 last year, Home Minister Amit Shah said full statehood would be restored in Jammu and Kashmir at an “appropriate time”.

“Like the assembly and panchayat polls, will this commitment also be delayed till the time is ‘appropriate’ for the BJP?” he asked.

The Congress general secretary said the new industrial policy announced in January 2021, along with the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, was supposed to usher in “development and progress. However, till date, only 414 units have been registered and actual investment on the ground is just Rs 2,518 crores”.

Although there was much optimism about the hospitality sector, investment proposals worth only Rs 87 crore have been received till date, he noted.

“Where is all of the ‘development and progress’ that PM Modi had promised?” Ramesh asked, using the hashtag  “#ChuppiTodoPradhanMantriji”.

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