A huge controversy has erupted in the Union Territory after the announcement of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Hirdesh Kumar Singh to allow non-locals to cast votes in the coming assembly elections.

Except for BJP, all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday vowed to oppose this move of the Election Commission of India.

While former Chief Minister and president of National Conference Dr. Farooq Abdullah announced to convene an all-party meeting on Monday, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti sought the support of political parties of the country to "save" Jammu and Kashmir from "pre-poll rigging".

As reported earlier CEO Hirdesh Kumar on Wednesday announced that non-locals including employees, students, labourers, or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in Jammu and Kashmir, can enlist their name on the voting list, and cast a vote in the coming assembly elections in the Union Territory.

CEO Hirdesh Kumar Singh
Chief Electoral Officer of J&K Hirdesh Kumar Singh interacting with media persons at Jammu on WednesdayJ&K Govt

While quoting the Representation of Peoples' Act, Singh said that there is no need for a domicile certificate to get voting rights in the assembly elections.

"One should be ordinarily residing in the area to get voting rights for assembly polls", Singh said, adding, "after the abrogation of Article 370, many people who were not enlisted as voters in the erstwhile State of J&K are now eligible to vote and in addition, anyone who is living ordinarily can also avail the opportunity to get enlisted as a voter in J&K as per the provisions of Act".

Farooq Abdullah
NC media cell

Farooq invites all parties except BJP for Monday's meeting

Vowing to oppose any move to give voting rights to outsiders, Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Thursday called an all-party meeting on Monday.

Invitations have been extended to all parties except BJP for Monday's meeting. Dr. Abdullah said that the meeting will be held at his Gupkar residence on Monday (11:00 AM) to discuss the latest decision of the ECI.

Earlier on Thursday morning, the PDP president contacted Dr. Farooq and asked him to call an all-party meeting to discuss a future course of action.

Mehbooba Mufti
Mehbooba MuftiIANS

Mehbooba seeks the support of national parties

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday sought the support of the political parties of the country to save J&K from the "unconstitutional" steps of the BJP.
She termed the decision of the Election Commission to allow outsiders to vote in the assembly polls as "pre-poll rigging".

"It is high time for all secular and democratic parties of India to oppose BJP's nefarious designs to deprive people of J&K of their constitutional and democratic rights", she said.

It is an attempt to disenfranchise the people of J&K: Tarigami

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami also described the announcement made by the CEO on allowing outsiders to vote in J&K as "disenfranchising the people of J&K".

"What J&K Chief Electoral Officer has said amounts to disenfranchising the people of Jammu and Kashmir further. The delimitation process through the reorganization act was an attempt to change the electoral demography of the region", he said.

"In the absence of any representative government in J&K, the union government has been exercising undiluted control in the region through a bureaucratic structure since June 2018. Today's statement of CEO is a brazen assault on the legitimate aspirations of the people", CPI (M) leader further said.

BJP has made J&K a laboratory: Congress

While opposing the decision of the Election Commission former minister and working president of J&K Congress Raman Bhalla regretted that the BJP has made J&K a laboratory to conduct another experiment to bulldoze democratic institutions.

"Instead of setting up a popular government in J&K, BJP has been brazenly indulged into deceitful tactics to snatch democratic and constitutional rights of the people here", Bhalla said and cautioned that the move "would prove disastrous".