J&K parties want statehood, Centre insists on elections first: Chidambaram

Former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday slammed the Modi-led government for insisting on elections in Jammu and Kashmir before granting statehood.Chidambaram said in a tweet, “Congress and other J&K parties and leaders want Statehood first and Elections afterward, Government’s response is Elections first and Statehood later.”The horse pulls the cart. A state must conduct elections. Only such elections under a State Election Commission will be free and fair. Why does the government want the cart in front and the horse behind? It is bizarre,” he added.The all-party meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg lasted for three and a half hours. It was attended by 14 leaders, including veteran politician and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah.Most leaders stressed on the restoration of the political process in the Valley.Fourteen mainstream leaders from eight political parties attended the meeting on Thursday aimed at setting on course the political process in the region, which has been under President’s Rule since 2018 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew support from then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s government.This was the first interaction between the Central leadership and the mainstream parties since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated it into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.Meanwhile, there was no discussion on abrogation of Article 370 in the three-hour meeting as the matter is sub judice. “On Article 370 abrogation, People’s Conference leader Baig says matter pending in Supreme Court, there was no point in discussing it,” news agency PTI reported. “Almost 80% of parties spoke on Art 370 but the matter is sub judice in court,” news agency ANI quoted senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad as saying.

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