Congress to boycott local polls in Jammu and Kashmir; PDP, NC also iffy
The Congress has decided to boycott the upcoming Block Development Council (BDC) elections which will be held in Jammu and Kashmir, reports ANI. The polls are the first electoral process in the union territory after the abrogation of Article 370 in August.
The election is scheduled to be held on October 24 from 9am to 1pm while the counting of votes will begin at 3 pm on the same day.
Pradesh Congress Committee chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma had earlier said that there was no cooperation from the government even after his party expressed its willingness to participate in the polls despite strong reservations about the conduciveness of the situation in the state.
“The party is taking a fresh review of the overall scenario with regard to BDC elections in the wake of continued restrictions on the majority of senior party leaders in the entire Kashmir Valley,” he said.
With all top notch leaders of the Valley, including former CMs Omar and Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, in detention, the two main regional parties National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party have already expressed reservations over participating in BDC polls.
The National Conference has already called the poll process ‘the biggest mockery of democracy’. It questioned the decision to hold polls in Kashmir in the shadow of ‘restrictions’.
PDP General Secretary R.K. Bali told IANS, “The political activity of our party is completely zero as all of our senior leaders have been detained or put under house arrest.”
The PDP leader said that in absence of their senior party leader, no major decisions can be taken in view of the BDC elections.
Announcing the elections last week, Chief electoral officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar hinted that top political leaders, in detention since the abrogation of Article 370, are unlikley to be released for canvassing. “It is not a big election. There will be no fierce door-to-door campaigning. It is a small electoral process…”, he said.
The elections will be held in the aftermath of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by the central government and division of the state into two Union territories. Kashmir was put under strict curbs and communication blockade on August 5 ahead of the abrogation of Article 370. Mainstream politicians including three former chief ministers of the state and separatists were put under detention.