New Delhi, Mar 24: The Assembly elections in troubled Jammu and Kashmir in 2002 were the freest in the history of the state, which had a long track record of rigged polls during the Congress governments at the Centre, said BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani.
''Our (NDA government's) biggest test was going to be conducting the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 2002. The NDA had promised that the polls in Jammu and Kashmir would be absolutely free and fair and the people of the state would have the government of their choice,'' he said in his memoirs 'My Country, My Life'.
Mr Advani said the state had a long track record of rigged polls during the Congress governments at the Centre. ''This had given rise to a deep-rooted perception among Kashmiris that, irrespective of what the people desired, New Delhi would install persons of its own choice in power in Srinagar.'' Pakistan had been adroitly exploiting this grievance to its own advantage,' he added.
''In our judgement, establishment of genuine democracy in Jammu and Kashmir was pivotal not only to the restoration of normalcy in the state, but also, indirectly, to India's peace process with Pakistan. For it would knock away an important plank in Pakistan's propaganda that the people of Kashmir had no faith in India and its democracy.''