The central government is not opposed to the idea of holding the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections along with the general elections in 2019, if the Election Commission decides so, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today in parliament. "If the Election Commission wants, we won't have any objection to it," he said in response to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's query in Rajya Sabha.
Mr Singh was replying to a discussion in the upper house of parliament over the imposition of president's rule in Jammu and Kashmir. He said it was the Election Commission's job to conduct polls, but the government would provide the required security.
"It is Election Commission's job to hold elections. But I would like to assure the House that we do not have any objection (to holding polls in Jammu & Kashmir). We are ready to provide whatever security support the Election Commission wants," news agency IANS quoted him.
Mr Singh's party, the BJP, was in an uneasy alliance with Mehbooba Mufti's PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. The party that had won a handful of seats in the Jammu region in 2014 assembly polls ruled the state for over four years along with the PDP. But, in June last year, in a surprising move, the BJP pulled out of the alliance.
The decision was taken after the Ramzan ceasefire on anti-terror operations was withdrawn. The peace initiative was Mehbooba Mufti's idea. "We brought in unilateral ceasefire which brought a lot of relief to the people. We can't have a muscular policy in Jammu and Kashmir... We weren't a part of an alliance just for power," Ms Mufti had said after the alliance was called off.
The assembly had been kept in suspended animation to look at the possibility of fresh government formation in the state, but Governor Satya Pal Malik decided to dissolve the assembly on November 21 as PDP with the support of National Conference and Congress staked claim to form the government.
People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone, considered to be close to PM Modi, had also staked claim with support of BJP and 18 other unnamed leaders.
The state was being ruled by the governor for six months before coming under the president's rule recently.
Responding to the charges of the opposition that the BJP's design was to form a government, Rajnath Singh said there was no conspiracy. "No one should doubt the government's intentions. There was no conspiracy," he said.
The BJP and the central government had been in favour of holding simultaneous elections, but the idea was shot down by the opposition.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah have spoken in favour of the idea, arguing that simultaneous polls would save the country's resources spent in elections.
A number of states including Telangana had had simultaneous polls in 2014. Assembly polls in Telangana this time were also scheduled along with the general elections. To avoid that, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the assembly, and assembly polls were held recently. His party, TRS, returned to power with a massive mandate.
With inputs from IANS