‘Mainstream parties politicising J&K panchayat elections’
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‘Mainstream parties politicising J&K panchayat elections’

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said the party will boycott the polls unless the Centre and state government clear their stand on Article 35A. Congress and PDP leaders are also meeting to chalk out whether to participate or not in the elections.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2018 18:39 IST
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmir,panchayat elections,Article 35A
Municipal and panchayat polls are scheduled to start in Jammu and Kashmir on October 1 and conclude in the first week of November under the shadow of the row over Article 35A.(PTI/File Photo)

The National Conference’s threat to boycott panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir unless the Centre and state government clear their stand on Article 35A of the Constitution evoked sharp response from the All J&K Panchayat Conference (AJKPC ) on Thursday which criticised mainstream parties for politicising the upcoming elections.

The AJKPC said former panches and sarpanches will take a decision about participation in the polls only after all the mainstream parties clarify their stand.

On Wednesday, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said that party will boycott the polls unless Centre and the state government clear stand on the Article 35A, which provides special rights to the state’s citizens. The Congress and the PDP leaders are also meeting to chalk out whether to participate or not in these elections. The Political Affairs Committee of PDP headed by former J&K chief minister and the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is meeting Thursday evening to decide the strategy about the polls.

A senior PDP leader who did not wish to be named, said that many leaders and workers of the party have been insisting on boycotting these elections as the situation on the ground was not feasible and majority of workers were against these polls.

“Whether National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress or the BJP, the leaders of all these mainstream parties have politicised the panchayat and local body elections as they were never interested in empowering the intuitions on the grassroot level,” Shafiq Mir, AJKPC president told Hindustan Times.

AJKPC is the only organisation of former panchayat members of the state. The tenure of some 4,000 sarpanchs and over 29,000 panchs in the state ended last year.

Mir said that if these parties, especially the NC, PDP and Congress are serious then their members should resign their assembly and parliamentary seats. “These all parties are playing politics over this issue. They are not resigning or boycotting the places where laws are being made but making institutions, which are meant for welfare of villages, controversial. ’’

Mir had termed these polls as “non-political elections” and said that everybody was concerned about Article 35A , including former panches and sarpanches because it was a crucial law for the state, but the mainstream political parties were using it to serve their own interests. “The mainstream parties including the ruling party at the Centre have made these elections a big issue and we also need to devise the strategy about this. The elections are no longer a non-political issue.’’

The AJKPC will meet to take the decision whether to take part in these elections or not after the mainstream parties make their stand clear. “We are adopting a wait and watch policy.”

The Jammu and Kashmir government had announced the schedule for its municipal and panchayat polls last week. The polls are scheduled to start on October 1 and will conclude in the first week of November. The decision was taken by the state administrative council (SAC), which met under the chairmanship of governor Satya Pal Malik last Friday. Preparations for the elections have been on ever since the state came under governor’s rule on June 20.

Militants and separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have called for a boycott of the local bodies’ polls in Jammu and Kashmir, saying people’s participation in the elections are propagated “as a verdict in India’s favour”.

Mir said that while they respect the decision of separatist organisation, they were surprised with mainstream politicians. “This has become very sensitive issue.’’

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s militant commander Riyaz Naikoo has also threatened likely candidates to get shrouds as well when they fill the election forms in a bid to scuttle the elections through fear.

First Published: Sep 06, 2018 18:39 IST