Panchayat Polls: PDP Hints At Following NC 

SRINAGAR — A day after the National Conference (NC) decided to boycott panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP said it would follow the same path, noting that a political party could not ask people for votes in a tense situation that was compounded by Article 35A.

Speaking to news channel, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said, “Some powers might be up to some mischief to fiddle with Article 35A once polls are done. In view of that and the mood on ground, it is difficult for the PDP to ignore public sentiment.”

Mehbooba said a call would be taken on the issue after speaking to party men, adding that she hoped the governor would hold consultations with political parties and build consensus on the elections.

On Wednesday, the NC too had cited Article 35A as the reason for boycotting the polls. “The core group (of NC) unanimously decided that the National Conference will not participate in these elections unless and until the government of India and the state government clarify their positions in this regard and take effective steps for protection of Article 35-A in and outside the courts,” party chief Farooq Abdullah had said.

Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to women who marry those from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

Abdullah said the decision of the state administration to hold urban local body polls and panchayat elections was taken in a “hurried manner” and without taking into consideration the prevailing situation “created by the powers that be by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35A”.

The state government last week 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.

Abdullah said the core group had a detailed discussion about prevailing situation in the state with particular reference to Article 35A of the Constitution. “It was felt that any tinkering with Article 35A would prove disastrous not only for our state but for the entire country”.

He said the stands of the central government 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.”

Last week, the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A to January next year. The Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government referred to the panchayat polls in the state and seek adjournment of hearing on petitions against Article 35A.


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