PDP likely to decide on contesting local body polls today as Mehbooba calls party meet

Srinagar: PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has called a meeting of her party leaders, to decide if they will boycott the urban local body polls and the panchayat elections later this year, reports said on Monday.

The party has already indicated that it cannot ignore the sentiments of the people until the validity of Article 35-A is protected. The National Conference has said it will boycott the panchayat polls and even the 2019 elections unless New Delhi takes steps to protect 35-A.

Article 35A, which gives special rights to people in of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars outsiders from owning immovable property, has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

With National Conference, the largest cadre-based political party of Jammu and Kashmir, threatening to boycott the local body polls, the governor Sayta Pal Malik, went out of his way and met the PDP chief at her residence on Sunday, to persuade her not to announce boycotting the polls, NDTV reported.

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The state government last week had announced the schedule for holding elections in the state. While the urban local body polls are scheduled for the first week of October, the panchayat elections are set to take place in December.

“The core group National Conference has unanimously decided not to participate in these elections unless and until the government of India and the state government clarify their positions and take effective steps for protection of Article 35A in and outside the courts,” NC said in a statement on Wednesday.

Reacting to Farooq Abdullah’s statement Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of the BJP said, “We want local body elections to be held in Jammu and Kashmir to provide democratic rights to the citizen of the state. Farooq Abdullah has always done politics and never made efforts to ensure democratic rights of people. Now, that Modi ji is trying to do so he is speaking against it. If Farooq Abdullah is objecting to panchayat polls over 35A issue then why did he contest Kargil polls?”

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir believe that New Delhi’s stand over Jammu and Kashmir in the Supreme Court is “clearly against the wishes and aspirations” of the people of the state. On 27 August, 22 people were injured during protests and many parts of the state saw a shutdown amid rumours that the Supreme Court was hearing petitions against Article 35A.

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