DAYS AFTER the National Conference (NC) decided to boycott the municipal and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced on Monday that it would also “stay away from the electoral exercise at this juncture”.
Announcing the decision after a meeting with party leaders at her residence here, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said: “The situation created by linking panchayat polls with the case pending in Supreme Court on Article 35A has created apprehension in the minds of the people, who see an assault on the special constitutional position of the state… It was unanimously resolved that the party would stay away from the electoral exercise at this juncture.”
Last week, the NC said it would boycott the local polls, and even threatened to boycott elections to the assembly and Lok Sabha, if the Centre doesn’t clear its stand on Article 35A of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court is hearing pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of J&K.
Reading out the resolution passed at the party meeting on Monday, Mufti said: “It was felt that any attempt to impose any electoral exercise in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension would seriously erode the credibility of the process… It (conducting elections) would defeat its very purpose.”
“The party urges the government to review its decision to hold elections to local bodies at this juncture, against the will of the people, and instead focus on confidence building measures so that the state is assured of the inviolability of the constitutional guarantees that make it a special part of the Union of India,” she said.
Meanwhile, J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subramanyam said the elections would be held as scheduled, and the notification would be out in a few days. “The polls are on,” he said. “The decision was taken in July. The voter lists have been published, they have been finalised, and the delimitation of the constituencies has been done. In a few days, the actual (election) notification would come out. That is done by the chief electoral officer,” he said.
While the municipal polls will be held in four phases from October 1 to October 5, the panchayat polls will be held in eight phases from November 8 to December 4.
Sources said the three Opposition parties — NC, PDP and Congress — are under pressure from their workers to boycott the municipal and panchayat elections because of the unfavourable situation in South Kashmir. In fact, BJP workers are also reported to have conveyed to their party leadership that the time is not right for holding elections.