Jitendra Singh To NDTV On J&K Statehood, Opposition's "Vested Interest"

Union Minister Jitendra Singh said it is the Opposition's false portrayal of the ground situation in the border state that is misleading people.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh speaks to NDTV in an interview

New Delhi:

The people of Jammu and Kashmir after living in a period of normalcy following the scrapping of special status to the erstwhile state feel encouraged to seek a true democracy, Union Minister Jitendra Singh told NDTV in an interview.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's April 12 speech in Udhampur in the Union Territory about restoring statehood and holding a state election, Mr Singh said it is the Opposition's false portrayal of the ground situation in the border state that is misleading people.

Udhampur, where voting was held on April 19, is Mr Singh's Lok Sabha constituency.

"Elections had been happening for decades in Jammu and Kashmir, but with a very small voting percentage. It was a travesty of democracy that we had a voting percentage of just about 10 per cent. People would elect MPs and MLAs, particularly from Kashmir valley, and they would go on becoming MPs, MLAs, ministers, generations after generation," the Union Minister of Science and Technology told NDTV.

"They have now cultivated a vested interest in the continuance of militancy. In the shadow of militancy and terrorism, they can have close elections with a limited voter turnout which would of course be managed by them, and then they would manage their victory, election after election," Mr Singh said, in what was also seen as taking a swipe at dynastic politics.

The Abdullah family of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference had been a strong political force in the region.

"Now that it (Jammu and Kashmir) has opened up, I think this is in the true spirit of democracy that we have a huge turnout, which also happened in the District Development Council (DDC) election," Mr Singh said.

The DDC election was held after the centre in August 2019 scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

"We had a huge voter turnout (DDC elections) even in Kashmir valley. The situation has dramatically turned for the better. The most evident proof of that is the fact that we had more than two crore tourists in Kashmir valley. No tourist would risk their family just by assurance handed out by the government, or by a travel agency unless they get information from their own sources," Mr Singh said, adding that is what has encouraged and emboldened the common man on the streets of Kashmir valley to come out and aspire for true democracy.