The Union Home Minister for state Affairs Nityanand Rai on Wednesday clarified that statehood to Jammu and Kashmir will be granted at appropriate time. He said that the elections in the Union Territory will be held whenever the Election Commission of India wants as it is his prerogative.
He was making comments in the upper House of the Parliament while replying to queries regarding the delimitation report. Jammu and Kashmir was downgraded to Union Territory in 2019 after the Modi government scrapped the provisions of Article 370 and withdrew all constitutional privileges to erstwhile state. The Union Home Minister told the floor of the House that once normalcy returns and the situation is conducive, statehood to the newly carved out UT will be granted.
He was quick to add that it will not take as long as removal of Article 370 while criticizing the Congress government. Three years have passed but statehood seems an elusive dream though there are strong demands from the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Some top politicians including PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah have refused to contest elections as long statehood is not returned.
No one knows the parameters that the Union Government is considering to return the statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. The simple answer it offers every time is “appropriate time.” Even there is no final word about elections though speculations are high that this year the Assembly elections will be held.
Even the political parties have already started outreach programmes. So what is cooking in the mind of the Union Home ministry no one knows. But the ground situation is strongly favoring a government of people and it is ill advised to have UT affairs being run bureaucratically for so long. Democracy is a power to the people so it deserves the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Let the Union government take a call for elections first and ensure free and fair elections are held in the UT at least by the end of this year. Once the first hiccup is crossed, the discussion over statehood can be taken to the second stage.