A day after the National Conference announced to boycott the municipal and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has also distanced itself from the elections, saying the government must come clear on Article 35 A and “dispel our fears” first.
The decision has put a question mark on the polls as the two major political parties of the state have expressed their reservations against participating in the elections. While the PDP has said that it would take a final decision only after “wider consultations”, sources said party leaders are in favour of a boycott, especially as the petition challenging Article 35 A is in the Supreme Court.
“We have some reservations,” PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmad Mir said after the party’s core group met on Thursday evening to discuss the panchayat polls. “We have already said the government has mixed Article 35 A with elections. There are apprehensions in the Valley that the government would tinker with Article 35 A after the election is over. We don’t want to see our people disturbed.”
Sources said that senior PDP leaders were of the opinion that the atmosphere in the Valley is not conducive for the municipal and panchayat polls. “The dominant view was that the party should stay away from the elections,” said a party leader. “There is pressure from the workers also, especially those from south Kashmir. They are saying that the situation is not feasible for any sort of political activity and they are not ready to participate in elections.”
Chief spokesman Mir said that the party would take a final call only after there is clarity from the government over Article 35 A. “The final decision will be taken only after there is clarity about Article 35 A,” he said. “The government will have also to dispel our fears. There is no move from the government. They should have consulted the political parties about what to do and how to do. They should tell us how they plan to provide security. A final decision would be taken after wider consultation within the party and other like-minded parties.”
While the municipal polls will be held in four phases from October 1 to October 5, the panchayat polls would be held in eight phases from November 8 to December 4.
Sources said that the three major political parties — National Conference, PDP and Congress — are under tremendous pressure from their workers who are asking them to boycott the polls because of the unfavourable situation in south Kashmir. BJP has also been told by its workers in the Valley that the time is not right for elections.