New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday said that the elections for Block Development Council (BDC) to be held on October 24 in Jammu and Kashmir, which is in a state of lockdown, will be to be held on October 24 is “a travesty of democracy”.
Following the party’s three-day central committee (CC) meeting, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told the press that the situation in J&K is “far from normal” despite the Union government and the BJP claiming the opposite “from the roof-tops”.
“Even CPI(M) Central Committee member, Mohd. Yusuf Tarigami, was not granted permission to attend the meeting of the Central Committee, though the government claimed in the Supreme Court that he is not under detention. This shows that all the claims made by the government that so-called normalcy exists in the Valley is completely the opposite of ground realities,” Yechury said.
The Supreme Court had permitted Tarigami to visit New Delhi for medical treatment. On September 17, Tarigami had told reporters at the national capital that people in J&K are “slowly dying” because of the lockdown imposed by the Union government against their wishes.
He added that even after two months of the decision by the Union government to read down Article 370 and bifurcate the state into union territories, “the clampdown on communications continues, public transport is off the roads, schools and other educational institutions remain closed, shops and other business establishments continue to remain shut.”
He hit out at the election authorities for announcing the BDC elections at such a time.
“This is a travesty of democracy with the sole intention of portraying to the world that ‘normalcy’ prevails. Further, 61% of the seats of the panches and sarpanches who constitute the electoral college for the BDC elections comprises are lying vacant,” Yechury said, adding that the polls should only be held after “the right to political activity is restored.”
The citizenship debate
The party leaders also discussed the crucial issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) during the three-day CC meeting. Demanding that “no genuine Indian citizen” should be excluded if her name is not in the final list, the general secretary said that the updation of NRC was a part of the Assam Accord, and should be restricted to that state. Nearly 20 lakh people were excluded from the NRC’s final list that came a month ago.
He expressed his worry over various chief ministers of BJP-ruled states demanding an NRC-like exercise in other states too.
“The Central Committee of the CPI(M) opposes the extension of the NRC outside of Assam,” Yechury said, hitting out at the Union government and its ministers for advancing the NRC debate across India for political gains.
“This government has revived the preparation of the National Population Register (NPR). This is being done in preparation for an all India NRC on the basis of this NPR. The BJP central government has asked some states to start constructing buildings to be used as detention centres,” he said.
He added that any updation of NRC throughout India is “unnecessary” as identity cards like Aadhaar and voter cards are “routinely revised every year”.
“When all these already exist”, the shrill campaign around NRC and Citizenship Bill NPR, “indicate the efforts to sharpen polarisation in the country in order to consolidate the RSS/BJP’s communal vote bank,” the party said in a statement.
The CC meeting also discussed the economic slowdown in India and made plans to launch nation-wide agitations against rising unemployment levels, dilution of labour rights, and the proposed privatisation of public sector units like BSNL, ordnance factories, Indian Railways and Air India, among others.
“The CMIE estimates on the basis of official figures, which are normally a gross underestimation, as of September 27, 2019, unemployment has reached 9.94% – the highest in over half a century. By August end, 4.5 crore people officially reported being unemployed. This is an increase of 1.1 crore from last August. Youth unemployment is estimated to be 28%,” the party said.
The CC also gave a call for “a year-long observation” to mark the 100th year of the Communist Party of India, which was founded on October 17, 1920.