All mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the regional National Conference (NC) Saturday welcomed the Election Commission's announcement to hold assembly elections on schedule.Immediately after the announcement, NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said: "We opposed the elections at this point of time because we felt that this is not the opportune time as the people are battling the aftermath of the flood tragedy that has befallen the state."The NC clearly stated that the choice is between the people of the state and their sufferings on one side and the politics and elections on the other side. Since democracy is for the welfare of the people, it was imperative to go by the will of the people.
"Unfortunately, the NC was in a minority on the issue with political parties like PDP and others giving preference to their craving for power than the people," he said.Sagar said now that the Election Commission has in its wisdom announced the schedule for elections in the state, the NC will internally discuss and decide its further course of action.He, however, added: "Since the NC has always been a votary for democracy, we have decided to participate in the elections."Kashmiri separatist leaders have already called for a boycott of the election, while mainstream political parties are ready to start their election campaign after Chief Election Commissioner Y.S. Sampath made the announcement in New Delhi Saturday.
Naeem Akhtar, chief spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: "The democratic process cannot be wished away although the times are difficult in Jammu and Kashmir."The people have to be given their right to choose the political dispensation they desire and for that to happen holding elections is important."We welcome the decision. Holding of elections would result in a stable government that is needed to carry forward the stupendous task of relief and construction post floods in the state," Akhtar said.Salman Anees Soz, national spokesperson of the Congress, said: "We are with the decision taken by the Election Commission. We welcome the democratic process and are ready to participate in it."
Ashok Khajuria, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state assembly, said the party was for the democratic process."We welcome the announcement by the Election Commission," he said.Sitting legislator Harsh Dev Singh of the National Panthers Party (NPP) said his party does not support governor's rule in the state."The state government is on a weak wicket. It was trying to persuade the Election Commission to postpone the elections for party reasons. The announcement made by the Election Commission is welcome and we fully support it."State Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassam Mir, who heads the Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN), said: "Now that the Election Commission has announced holding of elections, we are ready to participate in them.
"I had personally said since there had been devastation by floods in the state, the elections should have been delayed, but once announced, we have to face the elections," he said.Yusuf Tarigami, state general secretary of the CPI-M, told IANS: "Democratic process is the only alternative to every situation. We the people of Jammu and Kashmir are facing a very tough situation because of the floods."The people need to elect a leadership to carry out the relief and rehabilitation in the wake of these floods and for that elections should be held in time. We welcome the decision by the election commission."