'Hold polls in J&K if confident about decisions'

Ambika Soni

AICC general secretary Ambika Soni here on Wednesday attacked the BJP, saying it should hold elections in the newly carved union territory if it felt the decision taken by it were democratic and the situation normal.

Soni was here to consult the state party leadership on the nationwide agitation against the "economic crisis" and said the demand for the restoration of the statehood would be the bottom line for the protests in the Jammu region.

In a reference to the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, she asked, "How many promises have been fulfilled after the decisions was taken three months ago."

Soni, who was accompanied by senior party leaders, including the party's J-K president G A Mir, said people were under detention and based on her personal experience after landing here on Tuesday, she didn't see the Internet functioning.

"If the situation is normal, how long will you keep the former chief ministers detained? If you have taken a democratic decision, why you don't take the opinion of people by holding elections?," she said, adding that whatever happened, happened in an "undemocratic way and in a haste".

"It was done after lending ear to misconceptions (created about Jammu and Kashmir)," she said.

Asked whether she supported elections before the restoration of the statehood, the Congress leader said, "My willingness does not matter."

"We had a meeting of senior party colleagues and activists this morning and we are meeting again later in the afternoon. What I have learnt is that people are very disturbed as it has happened for the first time in the history of our country that a state was bifurcated into UTs," she said.

Soni said she was informed that people were "feeling humiliated" and "very concerned" about their future as the decisions with regard to J-K were taken in an "undemocratic way without taking them into confidence".

Soni said people wanted that the statehood be restored.

Referring to the economic situation in the country, she said it had gone from "bad to worse" and the opposition had launched an agitation from November 5 to protest "growing unemployment, deteriorating economic situation and farmer distress".

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself announced that the government will not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) treaty because the Congress raised the issue and mobilised people against it, forcing the government to change its decision," she said.

A congress leader said protests would be held on November 11 at the district level and November 16 in Jammu. "

"The protests here will also focus on the decisions taken by the BJP in the past 90 days, which turned the state upside down. People, especially the youth, are feeling humiliated by the dismembering of the state and the decision is not acceptable to them," she said.

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