NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh also announced that his party would contest all BDC seats in the state.
The Jammu and Kashmir unit of BJP on Saturday decided to field 280 candidates out of 316 seats in the upcoming Block Development Council elections, with the Congress and National Panthers Party too jumping into the fray despite reservations over the polls timing and the prevailing security situation. “We have decided to fight the BDC elections from 280 seats in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We have finalised the list of our candidates and are hopeful of a clean sweep in the elections,” state BJP president Ravinder Raina told reporters here.
The BDC elections are scheduled to be held on October 24. Raina said the BJP would be supporting independent candidates on the remaining BDC seats. “We will fight the elections with full vigour. Our panches and sarpanches are ready for the polls.” Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the historic decision of revoking J&K’s special status and strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the state, he said this is for the first time in the past seven decades that a three-tier system is being put in place in the state. “The BDC polls will be followed by the District Development Boards elections. The successive governments in the past, whether the NC, Congress or PDP, only exploited the people and denied power to panchayats. These parties treated panches and sarpanches as bounded labourers,” the BJP leader alleged.
Despite expressing reservations about the conduciveness of overall political and security environment, the state unit of Congress too decided to take part in the BDC elections. “The Congress has taken the bold decision to take part in the BDC elections in the larger interest of democracy, people of the state and the nation even as the state administration came out with a unilateral decision to hold BDC elections on party basis at a time when entire opposition leaders are under detention especially in the valley over the past two months,” State Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said.
He, however, questioned that when the main stakeholders — sarpanchs and panchs — are agitating on roads, raising various genuine issues including implementation of the left over provisions of 73rd Constitutional amendment, why has the BJP government failed to do so when the entire Constitution of India now applies to the state. “If elections to the BDC can be held, why large number of over 12,052 seats in Panchayats in Valley were not filled prior to this election,” Sharma said.
NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh also announced that his party would contest all BDC seats in the state. “The NPP will fight on all the seats in BDC elections and all district presidents and office bearers should make all out efforts to submit the names of candidates immediately,” said Singh, addressing an emergency meeting of its Working Committee here.
The meeting was convened by the NPP to discuss the current situation in the light of the abrogation of special status and reorganisation of the state into two Union territories on August 5-6 and sudden declaration of the BDC polls on party basis.
The NPP leader condemned the downgrading of the J&K state into Union territories and also the holding of the BDC Elections on party basis. “He (Singh) expressed his strong condemnation of this conduct of elections whilst keeping all the political leaders in the state, except for the BJP leaders; under detention of House Arrest or PSA,” a party release said. He remarked that this is the “murder of democracy” as neither dissent nor criticism of the Centre’s policies is allowed.