Take all stakeholders on board for polls

Now that the schedule for Municipal and Panchayat elections is announced to be held in four and eight phases respectively in Jammu and Kashmir beginning from Oct 1 and concluding on December 4, the process is sparred with the National Conference making its stand clear that it was not inclined to participate in these elections and would boycott them unless the Centre made its stand “clear” on the vexatious issue of Article 35A. It may be recalled that the issue is under the consideration of the Apex Court of the country.
At the outset, the Centre had, prima facie, got nothing to do in the matter till the court verdict which at the moment was with the status of being posted for hearing in January 2019. However, Dr. Farooq, the NC Patron wants the Central Government as also the State Government to take a “positive favourable ” stand in and outside the court. He termed the decision of the Government to hold the Local Bodies polls as “taken in a hurried way” which did not take into consideration the “prevailing situation”. The National Conference is seeing the contesting of the Article in the Apex Court, though neither by the Central nor the State Government, as unnecessarily fiddling with it.
On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sept 4, in Rajouri while addressing a workers’ rally, had described Article 35A as a bridge between the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union of India.
Mehbooba Mufti has also urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to convene all party meeting over holding of the Panchayat and Municipal polls so that a broader consensus was reached.
We feel that there should be no demurrer in any way in calling an all party meet by the Governor, wherein everyone concerned, could put forth one’s point of view, suggestions, objections, amends and even obtaining certain assurances to pave the way for conducting of the elections smoothly which have, otherwise, fallen overdue. When it is admittedly agreed that starting democratic process from the grass root levels would go a long way in diluting the impact and the writ of elements bent upon creating obstacles and proving inimical by their actions towards Kashmir returning to normalcy, there is no objection in assuaging the feelings, if any, and clearing certain mistrust or apprehensions.
An all party meet shall, therefore, decidedly play its positive democratic and realistic role in taking all stakeholders on board and try evolving consensus for conducting Municipal and Panchayat elections. So priorities must rest on development of villages by the active participation of the elected representatives and political issues must not hold hostage development at base or rural levels in the State.