Horse trading charge on BJP: India’s top administrator in Kashmir says ‘not sure about anti-defection law’

India’s top administrator in Kashmir valley on Monday hailed the completion of a local governance poll—the first one to be held since New Delhi unilaterally the region’s special autonomous status – but expressed ignorance on whether the recently elected member can be stopped from horse trading under the law as the abrogation on special powers have given the disputed region’s administrative control directly to the Narendra Modi-led Indian government.

Amid allegations of horse-trading by the political parties, particularly the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, the divisional administration Kashmir, P K Pole, said that he will verify whether the anti-defection law can be enacted in Jammu and Kashmir, which lost the status of a state on August 5, last year.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the oath ceremony of the victorious contestants in summer capital Srinagar, Pole when asked whether the law can be imposed here, said that he will have to check it from the Rural Development Department first.

The anti-defection law in India was enacted to address the problem of instability caused by elected lawmakers shifting allegiance from the parties they supported at the time of election, or disobeying their parties’ decisions at critical times such as during voting on an important resolution. Such shifting of allegiance was considered to be a symptom of endemic political corruption, which in turn provided some legitimisation for corruption prevalent in other aspects of life in the country.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said on Saturday last week that the BJP, its allies and the administration in Jammu and Kashmir should accept the verdict of the District Development Council elections and stop indulging in ‘horse-trading’ which will only discredit democracy and the institutions. He accused the Apni Party, led by former PDP leader Altaf Bukhari, and the union territory administration of using coercive tactics to buy loyalties of newly elected DDC members. “In case of Shopian district, some of the winners — from Congress, PDP and National Conference — are brought to Srinagar and coerced to join the Apni Party,” Omar had told reporters at a press conference in Srinagar.Asked about the future of the PAGD — an amalgam of various mainstream political parties demanding the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir — Omar said the alliance has a bigger mission ahead of it and will continue to pursue it.

“The DDC elections have shown that the majority of people do not accept the decisions taken on August 5, 2019. We have never claimed that all the people do not accept it but the majority does not,” he had said.