Srinagar: In an all-party meeting chaired by Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar, a heated debate took place between the Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition leaders on the issue of inclusion of non-locals in the electoral rolls. Some leaders said that they are satisfied with the clarification given by Hirdesh Kumar about the inclusion of 25 lakh voters, including outsiders, in the electoral rolls. But the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) boycotted the meeting and staged a sit-in against the Election Commission (EC) alleging that it has become the mouthpiece of the BJP.

Monday’s meeting assumes significance as it comes days ahead of an all-party meeting called by the coalition PAGD here against the issue of giving voting rights to outsiders in the assembly elections. Kumar chaired an hour-long meeting with leaders of various political parties in an effort to end the acrimonious controversy over inclusion of around 2.5 million voters, including outsiders, in the electoral rolls. The parties involved in the meeting included National Conference, BJP, Congress, PDP, Apni Party, BSP, National Panthers Party and CPI(M).

Officials said the meeting was a routine exercise to inform various parties about the amendments in the electoral rolls. The final voter list report will be made public on November 25. State Congress Committee general secretary and former minister Yogesh Sahni told reporters, “We are satisfied with the clarification given by the Chief Electoral Officer regarding our main concern on the inclusion of 25 lakh voters including non-locals.

He said that Hirdesh Kumar clarified that there was some confusion with regard to the figures and assured that only eligible local voters who have turned 18 years but their names have not been included in the electoral rolls in the last 4 years, will be eligible under the law. Voters will be listed as per Sawhney, however, said the opposition parties have made it clear to the Election Commission and the BJP that they will oppose any attempt to give voting rights to non-locals to influence the next assembly elections. An insider said that a heated argument took place in the last leg of the meeting.

Meanwhile, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Monday urged the natives of Jammu and Kashmir to get their names included in the electoral rolls to defeat the forces intending to win seats with the help of provisional voters. He said that the first assembly elections of the Union Territory will not be held only to form the government, but to protect the identity and dignity of Jammu and Kashmir. It would be disastrous to allow non-locals to vote in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said at the party workers’ convention in Shopian. The powers against the National Conference are so insecure that they have to import provisional voters to win the seat.

Tags:, Jammu and kashmir


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