Reduce J&K Assembly term to five years: BJP

Party says state should fall in line with rest of India

The state unit of BJP on Wednsday called upon the Jammu and Kashmir government to bring in a legislation to reduce the term of the state Assembly to five years from the present six.

“NC-Congress coalition government should bring in a legislation to reduce the term of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to five years thus paving the way for immediate election to the Legislative Assembly, possibly along with the Lok Sabha election, since the present Assembly has already completed five years of its current term,” BJP National Executive Member and J&K chief spokesperson Jitendra Singh said here on Wednesday.

He said, in the wake of countrywide debate on the merits of Article 370, this is the most opportune time for all the political parties to end the anomaly of six-years-term for J-K Assembly which is a glaring example of the misuse of Article 370.

Recalling the chronology of events, Singh stated that six-year-term of the Assembly is a grim reminder of the authoritarian Emergency period from 1975 to 1977 which has gone down as the darkest phase in the history of independent India and a blotch on democracy.

He reminded that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had brought the infamous 42nd Amendment (1976) of the Indian Constitution simply to defer elections to Parliament as well as state legislatures and thus facilitate uninterrupted continuance of the autocratic rule.

But the Amendment was promptly reversed when the Janata Party Government took over under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani as senior Cabinet ministers.

Ironically, however, he pointed out that while the then J&K government headed by Sheikh Abdullah was quick to adopt the Centre’s amendment extending Assembly’s term from five to six years, it conveniently turned a blind eye to the Center’s legislation to restore the term back to five years.

As a result, the J&K assembly term continues to be six years ever since the 1977 elections, he added.

Singh asked what could be a better vindication than this of the fact that Article 370 has been selectively used, or misused, to suit the convenience of a small coterie of ruling polity in the state with no concern for the welfare of people.

He said, it is for the NC-led government to explain, what “advantage” it saw in adopting six-year-term notwithstanding Article 370 and what “disadvantage” it now sees in reverting to five-year-term citing the constraints of Article 370?

On a similar analogy, Singh said the debate can be extended further to ask, for instance, what is the disadvantage in allowing 73rd and 74th Amendments of Indian constitution to empower the local Panchayats when such a large number of poorly empowered panches and sarpanches are getting regularly killed particularly in the Valley.

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