Only EC Can Decide On J&K Polls: MoS Singh

Jammu- The decision about holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir is the prerogative of the Election Commission, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Saturday and asserted that the BJP as a party is always in ready mode for any democratic exercise.

He also said that the Narendra Modi-led government has created ample opportunities for the youth to get employment in the country.

But the youth in Jammu and Kashmir did not get exposure to such avenues due to "constitutional barriers" of the past (now abrogated Article 370), Singh said.

"The Election Commission is an autonomous constitutional authority which will decide on the timing of the (assembly) elections in Jammu and Kashmir after getting the final report of the delimitation commission (set up to redraw the assembly seats of the Union Territory)," the Union minister of state in the Prime Minister's office said.

"As an activist of the BJP, we remain ready 24x7 to participate in panchayat, DDC, BDC, assembly and Lok Sabha (polls)," he said.

The minister was speaking to reporters at Vijaypur in Samba district after reviewing the ongoing work on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Jammu.

Singh said he had nothing to add to the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah who has already promised to conduct assembly elections after the completion of the delimitation process and restore statehood at an "appropriate time".

In 2019, the Centre had abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and reorganised the state into Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

"The process (holding of assembly polls) stopped because of the delimitation commission which is an independent body. They will submit their report to the Election Commission and then it is its responsibility to decide the date of the polls," he said.

On employment, Singh said there are a lot of alternative sources of livelihood available to the youth.

"We have the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) Jammu and there are so many opportunities of alternate source of livelihood available for the job seekers. In any part of the world, no government can provide salaried jobs to the youth in the government sector but a responsible government creates job opportunities for the educated youth," he said.

The minister said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over, the government created a lot of opportunities in various sectors including information technology, agriculture and dairy but "unfortunately, the constitutional barrier (Article 370) created a hurdle for such type of exposure for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir".

He said youth in the states like Gujarat are not inclined towards government jobs because they have other things in mind which help them earn better than the salaried government jobs.

"The government is creating such opportunities for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir," Singh said.

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