Congress decides to take part in municipal/panchayat polls of J&K

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Srinagar: The Congress on Wednesday announced to take part in the upcoming Panchayat and Municipal elections in Jammu Kashmir, reports said.

Quoting Congress State chief G A Mir as saying during a press conference, reports said that the party will not stay away from the elections to “keep the ground open for the communal forces but will fight with the full might.”

Two main local parties, National Conference and PDP have announced to boycott the polls.

“We cannot allow a field day to the BJP and RSS. We will contest the local bodies and panchayat elections with full might to stop communal forces from occupying the institutions of grassroots level democracy,” state Congress chief G A Mir told reporters here.

Mir, however, added that the Congress had time and again apprised Jammu and Kashmir governor’s office of the security concerns, especially in the valley.

“We sent three delegations to the governor right from the time N N Vohra took over the reins of the state (on 19 June 2018) to convey our concerns about the security of candidates. So far, we have not received any response from the concerned quarters on the issue,” he said.

Mir said his party will observe and assess the steps taken by the state administration on the ground to ensure peaceful, safe, free and fair elections.

“If this issue is not addressed, Congress party will deliberate and discuss it. We will be within our rights to review the decision (on participation in the polls),” he added.

Mir also said the Congress stood for safeguarding Article 35-A of the Constitution and will continue to do that.

“There are certain sections of people in our state who have some concerns. We have discussed those concerns minutely and found that those can be addressed by the state legislature without tinkering with Article 35-A,” he said.

On National Conference (NC) and PDP boycotting the upcoming polls, the state Congress president said they have their own issues “but secular parties have a role to play in stopping the communal forces”.

Mir lashed out at PDP saying the party was ruling in alliance with BJP till just a few months ago but today is making tall claims on various issues. “When you lose power, you start dreaming,” he said referring to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s recent statements on Article 35-A.

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution provides powers to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state and bestow special rights and privileges on them.

Mir claimed there was a possibility of a “tacit” understanding between the BJP and those parties staying away from local bodies polls with an eye on future elections in the state.

“It can be an understanding whereby the field is left open for BJP and RSS in this election and they (parties boycotting elections) getting a return favour later,” he said.