JEHANGIR ALI | 10 SEPTEMBER, 2018
J&K special status all important
SRINAGAR: After the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party today announced that it would boycott the upcoming elections to local bodies amid apprehensions over Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status being subjected to judicial scrutiny.
“The situation created by linking local bodies elections with the (Article 35-A) case has created serious apprehensions in the minds of people who genuinely see it as assault on the special constitutional position of the state,” read a resolution adopted during a meeting chaired by the party president Mehbooba Mufti here today.
The resolution warns that “any attempt to impose any electoral exercise in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension would erode the credibility of the process and intuitions. It would defeat the very purpose of it.”
Asking the government to review the decision to hold local bodies elections “against the will of the people”, the PDP called for initiating "confidence building measures" so the people are “assured of the inviolability” of the state’s special status.
The boycott decision will raise questions of credibility on the polling process, with the Jammu and Kashmir governmentconsidering “depoliticising” the elections which, if the proposal is cleared, may be held on a non-party basis.
In such a scenario political observers believe that the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is ruling at the Centre, may attempt to give a fresh push to undo its image of being a “Hindu party” and enhance its voter base by putting up candidates in all seats in the Kashmir Valley.
“While money power may help the BJP in the short term, holding elections on a non-party basis when two major regional forces are staying away will dent the credibility of the elections and the institutions of democracy,” a senior PDP leader said.
However, others believe that while the NC and the PDP may overtly stay away from the polls, the two parties will nevertheless encourage their party activists and workers to contest.
This scenario would well suit both the mainstreamers as well as the BJP-led Centre, amid fears of large-scale violence with the Hizbul Mujahideen threatening to carry out acid attacks on those who participate in the polls.
J&K’s chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra refused to comment on the issue. “When a decision is made, you will come to know about it,” he said.
Soon after assuming charge of the state last month, Governor S.P. Malik announced that elections to municipal bodies would be conducted between October 1 and 5. The state has 79 municipal bodies and corporations including those within the twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu.
Of 41 municipal bodies in Kashmir, 20 fall in the four districts of south Kashmir, where the government could not hold by-elections to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat due to massive law and order disturbances.