Stand Clear Since 1996′: As Polls Near End, Nitish Kumar Says JD(U) Not in Favour of Removing Article 370, 35A

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Despite an alliance with the BJP, the JD(U), since its earlier avatar as Samata Party, has held a distinct stance on three issues – Ayodhya dispute, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code.

Patna: As India votes in the last leg of Lok Sabha elections on Sunday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said the JD(U) is not in favour of removing Article 370 and 35A.

Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Kumar said his party’s stand was clear on the issue since 1996. He also condemned the remarks made by BJP Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur on Nathuram Godse, saying such statements should not be “tolerated”.

This is not the first time though that Kumar has batted for retaining Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution. The JD(U) chief had earlier warned that any “tinkering” with these provisions for Jammu & Kashmir would be “detrimental to the national unity and integrity”. On Ayodhya issue, the Bihar chief minister said that it should be solved through the court.

Despite an alliance with the BJP, the JD(U), since its earlier avatar as Samata Party, has held a distinct stance on three issues – Ayodhya dispute, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code. The chief minister’s statement assumes importance as the country winds up its mammoth election in which the BJP hopes to return with a thumping majority.

Meanwhile, Questioning the long-drawn polling in intense heat conditions, Kumar on Sunday suggested that Lok Sabha elections should be held in two or three phases.

“Such a long drawn elections should not be held in such an intense heat conditions. This is not appropriate time (conducive atmosphere) for holding elections. It must be either held in February-March or October-November in two to three phases in our country,” Kumar told reporters here.

He said that elections should be held in minimal phases so that voters should not have any problems in exercising their franchise as there is no shade for them at polling stations and they have to stand in queues.

“There should be unanimity among people that there should be constitutional arrangement that whenever there is election, it should be held at aforementioned time (Feb-Mar or Oct-Nov) and should not be held in so many phases,” the chief minister said, adding that there is no point having big gap between two phases of polling.

Ideally, elections should be held in one phase across the country but since the country so big that it should be held in two or three phases keeping in mind the hilly areas of north east states and Jammu and Kashmir.

Stating that the long drawn elections can’t be seen as mismanagement, Kumar said that “After the elections are over, I, as a president of my party, will write letters to the presidents of all political parties for discussion on the issue (timing for holding elections) despite the fact that we have so much differences over many issues.”

It would be good for everyone especially for voters if the idea is accepted by parties, he said, adding that the idea is in the interest of the country.

In reply to a query, Kumar exuded confidence that NDA government will be formed at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Asked about his issues during the campaigning, Kumar said that his only issue was development work which he did in the past 13 years and also the work done by the Union government which he raised during his election meetings.

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