Amid reports that the delimitation commission has finalized its draft report, former Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday asked the Centre to hold assembly elections in J&K in April next year to establish a democratic government.
While addressing a workers' meeting at Devsar in South Kashmir's Kulgam district, Azad asked the Union Government to complete the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir by February and hold assembly polls immediately after the winter.
Azad has given this statement amid reports that the draft report of the delimitation panel was ready and will now be shared with the associate members including three Lok Sabha members from the National Conference (Farooq Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone) and the BJP's Dr. Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma.
Next four months are not conducive for conducting elections
While demanding to conduct assembly elections in the month of April, Azad argued that the next four months are not feasible for elections. "Elections will be held after winter to ensure maximum participation of the people," he said and added that April is the best suitable month for holding assembly elections. Azad exhorted Congress workers to start preparations for the assembly elections.
Recalling deliberations in the all-party convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June this year, Azad said that they had demanded that the statehood be restored first and then the delimitation be taken up.
"Unfortunately, the government did not accept that. So, they should conclude the delimitation process till February and once the winter gets over, conduct the elections in April," he said.
Downplay bickering in Congress party
Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to downplay ongoing infighting in the J&K Congress after most of the loyalists in Jammu province have resigned from the positions of the party.
"Today priority is not who becomes the chief minister but how to restore the August 4, 2019 position in J&K", Azad said when reporters sought his reaction towards the demand of his loyalist to project him as the chief ministerial face of the party in coming assembly polls.
"The priority is not about the chief minister, it is not the issue. The priority is how to restore the August 4, 2019 position… which will happen by restoring the statehood and then having the assembly elections," he said while downplaying infighting in the Congress party.
Azad shifts focus on Kashmir
After en-mass resignations of his loyalists from positions of the party, Azad has now shifted his focus on Kashmir Valley to show his strength to Congress high command.
After covering all regions and sub-regions during the last 15 days, Azad has now activated his loyalists in the Kashmir Valley to intensify his mass contact programme.
Sources leaders of the faction headed by Ghulam Ahmed Mir are trying to give an impression to the high command that Azad's influence is confined only to some areas of Jammu province.
After kick-starting his mass-contact programme from the Devsar area of south Kashmir's Kulgam district, Azad has apparently launched a counteroffensive against Pradesh Congress Committee Chief G A Mir, who is a native of South Kashmir.