‘Will boycott assembly, LS polls too’: NC threatens Centre to take steps on Article 35 A

NC threatened to boycott the assembly and parliamentary polls if the Centre does not take effective steps for protection of Article 35 A.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2018 23:03 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Farooq Abdullah,Article 35a,supreme court
Farooq Abdullah made the statement while addressing party workers at a function here to mark the 36th death anniversary of his father and NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.(PTI)

National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah on Saturday threatened to boycott assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir in case the Centre doesn’t make its stand clear on Article 35A and Article 370 of the Constitution. The party has already declared that it will not take part in the upcoming elections to panchayats and urban local bodies.

Article 35A gives special rights to permanent residents of the state and disallows people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property in the state, settling permanently, or availing of state-sponsored scholarship schemes. It also forbids the J&K government from hiring non-permanent residents. Article 370 grants the state an autonomous status.

Abdullah’s comments come amid a debate over the two articles, which some want abrogated. A petition in the case has been filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, stating that the state’s autonomous status granted by Article 35(A) and Article 370 discriminates against citizens from the rest of the country.

Andullah, who is also the MP from Srinagar, said at a function to commemorate the 37th death anniversary of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, his father, that the NC will not only boycott the panchayat and local body polls, it will also stay away from assembly and Parliament polls if the Centre doesn’t make its stand clear.

“We are not afraid of elections, neither we are running away from this process, but first do justice with us. First do justice with us, then only we will move forward. Today everybody in Kashmir ,whether a shopkeeper, hotelier, labourer, taxi driver, shikarawala, ponywala... are perturbed that something is going to happen after these elections vis-à-vis Article 35A.’’

The municipal and panchayat polls are set to start on October 1 and last till first week of November. Lok Sabha elections are due in the first half of next year.

The J&K assembly has been under suspended animation and the state under Governor’s rule since chief minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned in June after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of a coalition government with her People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Abdullah’s statements indicate an effort to gain public sympathy for the NC and regain lost ground in J&K, said Gowhar Geelani, a journalist and political analyst. “He knows that PDP is on weak wicket in South Kashmir. By this he is trying to also gain the lost space for mainstream parties,” he added.

Congress vice president Ghulam Nabi Monga termed it an internal decision for the NC to take. “NC president is known for these type of statements.. He can even change his statement tommorow.”

Additional PDP spokesman Tahir Sayeed said: “NC president has been changing his statements everyday. He can’t be trusted... the PDP will take it’s decisions after proper consultations.”

The PDP has always given sacrifices for democracy and will continue to do that, he added.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said Abdullah should trust democracy. “We hope his party will take part in all elections...”

Abdullah said the government should call all political leaders and talk to them about elections. “The Prime Minister, like Hitler, made an announcement on August 15 that they are going to hold elections in the state. On one side elections are being declared and other side they talk of removal of Article 35A and 370. They now speak against our separate constitution. How can we go to the people and seek votes. First clear it, if you are for removal, then our paths are different. Not only will we boycott this election we will not even participate in assembly or Lok Sabha elections, bring whosoever you want to bring,’’ he said.

Abdullah noted National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s description of a separate J&K constitution as an aberration, adding: “I am telling Doval and the Centre government if our constitution is wrong, then accession with India is also wrong.’’

Last week, Abdullah had said, “Unless and until government of India and state government clear their positions in the regard and take effective steps for protection of Article 35A in and outside court, the NC will not participate in elections (panchayat and local bodies).’’

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 16:34 IST