NC announces boycott of Municipal, Panchayat polls

National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Clarify stand on 35-A: Farooq to Centre, State
Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Sept 5: In what is being seen as major setback to process of Municipal and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which had been initiated after a long gap by the State Government, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah today announced that it would boycott both the elections unless the Centre takes effective steps for protection of Article 35-A of the Constitution.
The National Conference is major political party in Jammu and Kashmir having 15 MLAs and one Lok Sabha member and holds considerable influence among the electorates in all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Only four days ago Abdullah had urged people to participate in the Local Bodies elections saying it is for their betterment. “The Government has announced Panchayat and Municipal elections. It will not settle things between India and Pakistan. It’s for the betterment of your life. Whether you want to uplift your village and end its worries”, Farooq had said last week in SKICC Srinagar during a function.
The NC leader said that a decision to boycott the elections was taken following a meeting of the Core Group of the party during which it was decided that NC will not participate in these elections unless and until the Government of India and the State Government clarify their positions on Article 35A.
Abdullah said the Core Group had a detailed discussion about the prevailing situation in the State with particular reference to Article 35-A of the Constitution. “It was felt that any tinkering with Article 35-A would prove disastrous not only for our State but for the entire country”.
Abdullah also demanded the Centre to take effective steps for protection of Article 35-A in and outside the Courts. He alleged that the State Administration took the decision to hold Urban Local Body and Panchayat elections in a “hurried manner” and without taking into consideration the prevailing situation “created by the powers that be by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35-A”.
The NC president alleged that the stands of the Centre and the present dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir before the Supreme Court goes clearly against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the State. “They conveniently ignore that this provision was incorporated in the Constitution after thorough discussion between the then State Government and the Government of India and was made part of the Delhi Agreement 1952,” he said. “It was also approved by the State’s constituent assembly as envisaged under Article 370 of the Constitution,” he said.
Abdullah said that the Core Group resolved that National Conference would fight tooth and nail all “sinister” attempts aimed at interfering with this Constitutional guarantee. “Such attempts, if allowed, shall strike at the very basis of the relationship between the State and the Union,” he said.
The call to boycott the upcoming polls came a week after the State Government announced the schedule for holding elections to Local Bodies and Panchayats in the State.
While the Urban Local Body polls are slated for the first week of October, the Panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in November-December this year.