The Congress’ Jammu and Kashmir unit Wednesday announced it will not contest the first ever Block Development Council elections being held in the state on October 24, citing continued detention of senior party in the aftermath of August 5.
“The Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” news agency PTI quoted state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir as saying.
Mir, who himself was under house arrest in Jammu until recently, alleged the state administration deliberately created hurdles for mainstream parties in order to facilitate the ruling BJP to win the polls. “They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the PCC leader charged.
The Congress had last Friday said it would participate in the elections despite its strong reservations over the political and security environment in the Valley. The party has now reversed its decision.
“We had issued letters to candidates for taking part in BDC polls so that we could contribute to the democratic exercise and some of our candidates also filed their nominations,” Mir said. However, since today was the last day for filing of nomination papers by candidates, he said “we have decided to stay away from polls which should have been deferred taking into consideration the prevailing situation in the state as was demanded by all opposition political parties.”
The NC, PDP and CPI(M) had already expressed reservations over participating in BDC polls.
The Congress’s decision to stay away from the polls was taken by the party high command after a review of the situation during a meeting in Delhi, sources had told The Indian Express.
In the BDC elections, panchs and sarpanchs will elect a chairman, after which District Development Boards (DDBs) will be constituted. The announcement for the polls came at a time when several mainstream politicians in the state including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are in detention, following the government’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
On Sunday, a 15-member National Conference delegation met detained leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah in Srinagar, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it had got permission to meet PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. The state administration has announced the lifting of restrictions and releasing of detained party leaders in a phased manner.