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Congress, PDP want new J-K governor to evolve consensus over panchayat, municipal elections

The municipal and panchayat polls are set to start on October 1 and last till first week of November.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2018 20:32 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Ashiq Hussain
Kashmir local polls,Satya Pal Malik,Article 35A
Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik.(HT Photo)

Congress and People Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday urged Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik to facilitate a consensus over panchayat and urban local body elections scheduled to be held from October in the state.

Congress chief G A Mir said that taking any unilateral decision would not be wise in a state like Jammu and Kashmir.

“We think it is a sensitive state and, here, taking any unilateral decision is not prudent. If he (governor) has to take issues forward successfully then consensus is necessary,” Mir said during a media interaction in Srinagar.

The Congress leader’s statement comes after National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah declared that the party will not take part in the upcoming elections until the Centre clears its stand on Article 35A and Article 370 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court last month adjourned hearing to January 2019 on a bunch of petitions against the Article 35A of the Constitution, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state. In the court, the state had pleaded for deferment of hearing till the panchayat elections were conducted.

Militants have warned candidates against taking part in the polls while separatists have called for a boycott.

Mir went on to say that even those ‘not in the mainstream’ should also be taken on board.

“Whether mainstream parties or those not in the mainstream, they should be taken onboard from time to time. Indian government has also appointed an interlocutor and if he (governor) wants he could use the services of the interlocutor. Till people understand the differences between panchayat, urban bodies, and assembly and parliament elections, it will be a mess,” he said.

He said that the panchayat and municipal elections are development-oriented, not politics-oriented and they could even be fought on non-party basis.

The state unit of the Congress has called for a meeting of its leaders on September 11 to decide their participation in the upcoming elections.

Mir said that they met the governor Malik as a party and wanted him to improve situation on ground before showing any haste in conducting the elections.

“A Lok Sabha election last time here showed 7 per cent polling. It did not send a positive message. We told him, if you want to increase it, then the grievances and issues of people have to be addressed, so that there is a change on ground. So you have to have a review of central policies as well as local, soften these policies so that there is a sigh of relief,” Mir said.

“When children leave home in the morning there are apprehensions whether they will return. Till these apprehensions are cleared people won’t support any democratic process…Take some decisions based on feedback from people and get people on board, then we can talk of elections,” he said.

The municipal and panchayat polls are set to start on October 1 and last till first week of November.

Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that governor should call for an all-party meet before going ahead with the elections.

“In our time we called an all-party meeting where it came to fore that the situation is not right and we can’t provide security to so many people, violence can erupt and even people can get killed. Today I also hope that government will consult all parties and then take a decision so that lives and properties of people are safe,” she told media after a public meeting in central Kashmir.

Mehbooba said that people are apprehensive about the elections and the fate of Article 35 A. “People are apprehensive, parties are apprehensive. Another problem is that Article 35 A in court, and then deferring it on the premise that a decision will be taken after panchayat elections has further aggravated the atmosphere. So in this situation I think governor should call all the parties to consult them and then take a decision,” she said.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 20:32 IST