The assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir due in November-December this year are likely to be delayed in view of unprecedented floods but the Omar Abdullah government could come under increasing heat due to perceptions that the state administration did not rise to the occasion.
“This is not the time to say who is responsible and who did not do what should have been done,” minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh told reporters, responding to a string of questions on the state’s inability to take adequate steps despite warnings from the Centre.
A BJP MP from Udhampur, Singh took pains to credit central agencies and armed forces for their role in the rescue operations but made no reference to the state’s efforts.
While the big challenge for J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah would be to correct this perception, the BJP and the Congress have already stepped up efforts in reaching out to the people.
In a swift response to worst floods that have hit J&K in six decades, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has already announced a financial assistance of Rs 2100 crore for the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh promptly visited the state, reassuring the people of all possible help.
The BJP has also deputed its volunteers to the flood affected areas.
On the other hand, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is abroad for a week for a medical check-up, directed all party chief ministers to support relief and rehabilitation efforts while party vice president Rahul Gandhi appealed to volunteers of its affiliated outfits – Youth Congress, NSUI and others -- to pitch in.
She is also in constant touch with party leaders seeking information about the situation and relief measures. Sonia has also set up a relief committee comprising state chief Saifuddin Soz, senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and several ministers and leaders.
With the two national parties having stirred political waters, Omar’ National Conference and the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) too asked its respective cadre to reach out to the people.
On its part, the government said any decision regarding the assembly polls will be taken by the Election Commission. “We should not connect the natural disaster and tragedy with either elections or politics.
The Election Commission will take a decision and they are the ultimate decision makers in that regard,” the home minister said when asked if the flood disaster would have any bearing on the upcoming polls.