First major political activity in Valley in 2 months
NC, PDP to take call on BDC polls; NPP to contest
JAMMU, Oct 5: Exactly two months since their detention, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, both former Chief Ministers, were allowed meeting with their 15 leaders from Jammu province tomorrow to discuss future course of action including participation in the Block Development Council (BDC) elections scheduled to be held on October 24 with October 9 being last date for filing of nomination papers.
The Nationalist Panthers Party (NPP) today also announced its participation in the election while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will take call on the BDC polls in next couple of days. The BJP, Congress and some smaller groups have already announced their participation in the polls.
While there was no official word, reports said, number of candidates have joined the fray for the BDC elections even as the Congress was yet to release list of candidates. The Election Authority has already set up 310 polling stations and designated an equal number of Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers to conduct the polls, the nominations for which were opened on October 1.
In first major political activity in the Kashmir valley during past two months since abrogation of special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, the Government today permitted a 15-member delegation of National Conference led by party provincial president and former MLA Devender Singh Rana to meet NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah in Srinagar tomorrow.
Rana told the Excelsior that the District Magistrate Srinagar conveyed to them that they could meet Dr Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar Road residence and Omar Abdullah at Hari Niwas, where both father-son were under house arrest since August 5.
The National Conference delegation will leave for Srinagar tomorrow and meet Omar Abdullah first followed by Farooq. The delegation’s meeting with Omar is scheduled at 11.15 am and with Farooq at 11.45 am tomorrow.
“We will discuss political situation with the party leaders and roadmap ahead as we haven’t met Abdullahs for the last two months. There were number of issues to be discussed and the BDC election was one of them,” Rana, who will return to Jammu tomorrow evening after the meetings, said.
This will be the first major political activity in Kashmir during last two months, where majority of political leaders from various Opposition parties were denied entry beyond Srinagar airport barring Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who were allowed to visit selected areas on directions of the Supreme Court.
Abdullahs have been allowed to meet only family members and two Lok Sabha members-Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi and this will be for the first time that they will inter-act with 15 senior party leaders from Jammu region. Sources said no restriction has so far been imposed on the Jammu NC leaders on timing of the meetings and speaking to media persons.
Led by Devender Singh Rana, the NC leaders who will meet Abdullahs tomorrow, included Ajay Sadhotra, Surjit Singh Slathia, Rattan Lal Gupta, Rashpal Singh, Sajjad Kitchloo, Javed Rana, Mushtaq Bukhari, Ram Pal, Aijaz Jan, Kashmira Singh, Trilochan Singh Wazir, Brij Mohan Sharma, Dr Chaman Lal Bhagat and Vijay Bakaya.
Sources said the National Conference leaders will discuss political situation in the State and roadmap ahead following abrogation of special status of the State and its bifurcation into the two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, which will come into effect from October 31.
The NC’s participation in the BDC elections will also be discussed, they added.
Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) could also announce its decision in next couple of days on whether to take part in the BDC elections or not.
Senior PDP leader and former Minister Choudhary Zulfkar told the Excelsior that all their senior leaders were under house arrest in Kashmir.
However, he said, the PDP was likely to announce its decision on whether it would contest or boycott the BDC elections in next couple of days.
The National Panthers Party (NPP) today announced its participation in the BDC elections.
Senior NPP leader and former Minister Harshdev Singh said the Panthers Party leaders met today under the chairmanship of Prof Bhim Singh and decided to contest the BDC polls. All prominent NPP leaders including Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal attended the meeting.
Harshdev, however, described conduct of BDC elections without implementation of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India as “mockery” and “betrayal with people as well as Sarpanchs and Panchs”.
Like other parts of the country, the Central Government should have implemented 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India in Jammu and Kashmir before going in for conduct of the BDC elections, Harshdev said.
Sources said some smaller parties might also take a call on the BDC elections by Monday.
It may be mentioned here that October 9 is the last date for filing of nomination papers for the BDC elections. With October 6, 7 and 8 being holidays on account of Sunday, Durga Navmi and Dussehra, only one day has been left for the filing of nomination papers on October 9.
Meanwhile, though the exact data is being compiled by the Election Authority, sources said number of candidates have joined the fray for the BDC elections even as the Congress was yet to release list of its candidates.
The Election Authority has set up 310 polling stations and already designated an equal number of Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers.
Though there are 316 BDCs in the State, election will be held for only 310 BDCs as there were no women candidates in four BDCs reserved for fair sex while there were no Sarpanchs and Panchs in two BDCs.