SRINAGAR Minutes after National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah made the announcement of boycotting upcoming polls, the party’s arch rival PDP expressed hope that newly appointed governor Satya Pal Malik would convene an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that her party the PDP was hopeful that the Governor will convene an all-party meeting on the issue.
“(When) in government I had called an all-party meeting to discuss ULB/Panchayat elections and majority of the parties had opposed holding of elections at that time. We expected that the governor too would have called an all-party meet where everyone would put forward their viewpoint,” she said.
“We are still hopeful about that meet and would share our opinion with all the parties so that a consensus is built,” she added.
The PDP president, tweeting from her personal handle, said, “The central government’s plea in Supreme Court to link decision on (Article) 35-A with panchayat and urban bodies elections, was a disastrous idea, which has further alienated the people and complicated the situation on ground.”
In Jammu, state Congress chief G A Mir said it was the responsibility of the governor-led administration to provide secure atmosphere to the candidates and voters and ensure peaceful, free and fair polls.
“The situation in the state, especially in Kashmir Valley, over the past three years has deteriorated. The previous PDP-BJP government failed to conduct bypolls to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat…,” he said.
Mir said the Congress had informed former governor N N Vohra and his successor Satya Pal Malik that the party would not sit behind if they chose to conduct the panchayat and municipal elections, but added that a decision would be taken after reviewing the ground situation.
Talking to reporters in Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi refused to comment on the NC’s decision to boycott the polls, but alleged that the BJP was raising issues such as Article 35-A and uniform civil code to divert the people’s attention from its misgovernance.
Reacting to the NC’s stand, the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference termed it “highly-objectionable” and asked the party not to politicise panchayati raj institutions for “petty vote bank politics”.
AJKPC state president Anil Sharma told reporters in Jammu that it was an attempt “to blackmail the Government of India and put pressure on the apex court”, hearing pleas challenging Article 35-A.
The Centre had last week informed the Supreme Court that panchayat and urban local body elections were to be held in the state, prompting the apex court to defer hearing on a bunch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A to the second week of January next year.