Days after the NC and PDP announced they would boycott the municipal and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress on Wednesday said that conducting the elections without participation of the two political parties would be a “futile exercise”. It was for the Centre to make an assessment on whether this was the right time to hold these elections, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Indian Express. “All the political parties should participate (in the elections). If no political parties are participating, that will be a futile exercise.”
The two major political parties in the state — the NC and the PDP — decided to boycott the polls saying that the Centre was yet to declare its stand on Article 35A, which accords special rights and privileges to Jammu and Kashmir citizens. Participation of all the parties in the polls is a “must”, Azad said. “Kashmir Valley is more important. For that the participation of all the political parties is a must. If two political parties don’t participate, that is not fair and just and that is not good,” he said.
The state Congress said it would take a final call about participation in the local polls after deliberations with the leadership in New Delhi. “No one will tell you that the situation in Kashmir is fit for elections,” state Congress president G A Mir said at a press conference in Srinagar. “The world knows that the situation is not conducive in the state, especially in Kashmir.”
He said that neither the Centre nor the state administration was coming forth to clarify the situation. “We called on the Governor twice in the last 10 days. Yesterday also we met him. We raised questions on preparations for these polls, but the concerns have not been addressed,” Mir said. “The polls were announced without taking anyone on board. It seems the government is only testing the waters.” He said a team would be sent to New Delhi to brief the party high command over the issue.
Meanwhile, state Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam ruled out postponement of the elections. “There are multiple views going on. We have decided that the polls are going on as per schedule,” Subrahmanyam said at an event at Sheri Kashmir International Conference Centre. “There will be no change in dates. There will no change in schedule.”
He added, “Three weeks from now, we will have urban body elections. In the first week of November, we will have panchayat elections. That train is moving and it is moving brilliantly and nothing is going to stop it.”