Come clean on Article 35A, PDP tells Centre; hints may boycott municipal, Panchayat polls in J&K

By: | Published: September 7, 2018 9:19 AM

While the municipal polls will be held in four phases between October 1 and October 5 and the panchayat polls will be held in eight phases between November 8 and December 4.

PDP, mehbooba Mufti, National Conference, Jammu and Kashmir, Panchayat elections, Municipal elections, BJP, Congress, Article35A‘Come clean on Article 35A’, PDP tells Centre; hints may boycott municipal, Panchayat polls in J&K

In a development that puts a question mark on the conduct of the upcoming panchayat and municipals polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the two major politics parties of the state – National Conference (NC) of Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Mehbooba Mufti, have announced to stay away from the upcoming polls. According to a report in The Indian Express, a day after the National Conference distanced itself from the elections, the PDP has dropped hints that it may not participate in the polls, saying the Central government “must come clear on Article 35A and dispel our fears first”.

The IE report said that though the PDP said that it will take a final call only after ‘wider consultations’, sources said that party leaders are in favour of a boycott, especially as the petition challenging Article 35A is in the Supreme Court.

“We have some reservations,” the IE report quoted PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmad Mir as saying on Thursday evening after the party’s core group met to discuss the panchayat and municipal polls.

Mir said that the government has mixed Article 35A with elections and “there are apprehensions in the Valley that the government would tinker with Article 35A after the election is over”. “We don’t want to see our people disturbed,” the PDP leader added.

Mir further said that a final call will only be taken after the government clears its stand on Article 35A of the Constitution which gives special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The final decision will be taken only after there is clarity about Article 35 A,” he said.

“The government will have also to dispel our fears. There is no move from the government. They should have consulted the political parties about what to do and how to do. They should tell us how they plan to provide security. A final decision would be taken after wider consultation within the party and other like-minded parties,” he added.

The IE report said that the PDP leaders were of the opinion that the situation in the Valley is not conducive for the holding panchayat and municipal polls. A PDP leader said that there is pressure from the workers also, especially those from south Kashmir, that party should stay away from the elections.

“The dominant view was that the party should stay away from the elections,” the leader was quoted as saying in the IE report. The PDP leader added that party workers are saying that they are not ready to participate in elections given that the situation is not feasible for any sort of political activity.

Last week, the State Administrative Council (SAC) of Jammu and Kashmir had announced that the municipal polls will be held in four phases between October 1 and October 5 and the panchayat polls will be held in eight phases between November 8 and December 4.

On Wednesday, the National Conference had announced that it will stay away from the upcoming municipal and panchayat polls in the state, saying the “situation was not conducive for such an exercise”. “Our party will not contest the panchayat and municipal polls until the Centre clears its position on Article 35A granting special rights to the residents and takes effective steps for its protection,” NC president Farooq Abdullah had told reporters after the party’s core group meeting.

Meanwhile, the IE report citing sources also claimed that besides National Conference and PDP, the Congress is also under tremendous pressure from their workers who are in favour of a boycott because of the unfavourable situation in south Kashmir.

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