Srinagar: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is likely to follow in the footsteps of its political bête noire, the National Conference (NC), which announced it will boycott the upcoming panchayat and municipal elections in the state.
In a top-brass PDP huddle at the official residence of Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar, a consensus evolved that the situation is not conducive for elections in Jammu and Kashmir. A final announcement, though, about the party position would wait till this weekend, after consulting party leaders and activists on the ground, PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir told Kashmir Reader.
“People are apprehensive about the Article 35A case (in the Supreme Court) as the incumbent government has linked it with the polls. Also, the position of the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) is not clear and it has created confusion among the masses,” Mir said.
ASG Tushar Mehta, who is representing Jammu and Kashmir State in the Supreme Court, has told the court that certain provisions in Article 35A need to be debated.
PDP general secretary Abdul Rehman Veeri, who was part of the top-brass meeting, said that the party will hold a wider consultation with ground workers across the state before taking a final decision.
The PDP’s boycott of the elections would put a big question mark on the purpose of the polls, as the two largest regional political parties would stay away from them. Already the elections have been overshadowed by a spate of attacks on policemen and mainstream politicians. The recent abductions of family members of serving policemen have made worse the situation, especially in southern Kashmir’s four districts.
In the previous term for which panchs were elected, militants shot dead 16 panchayat members for their affiliation with mainstream political parties. A senior mainstream politician said that their cadre in several parts of the southern region have indicated “unwillingness” to undertake any sort of political mobilisation.
Shafiq Mir, who heads a body of panchayat leaders named All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC), and who led a delegation last year to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand elections, disapproves of the boycott. According to him, the boycott has “halted” political mobilisation by the candidates in their respective wards.
“Except for south Kashmir where the situation is worsening, things are fine in other places. But the boycott has impacted the activities on ground. We are waiting for the government’s decision,” he said.