September 2018 News

NC Announces ULB, Panchayat Polls' Boycott

5 September 2018
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Srinagar: National Conference (NC) Wednesday announced its decision to boycott the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayat polls in the State unless Government of India (GoI) and State government come up with concrete and tangible steps to protect Article 35-A in and outside the courts. 'The Core Group unanimously decided that NC won't participate in these polls unless and until the GoI and the State government clarify their positions on Article 35-A,' NC President and Member of Parliament, Farooq Abdullah said addressing a news conference after chairing the party's Core Group meeting. He said the decision of the State administration to hold ULB and Panchayat polls 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 35-A. Abdullah's boycott of ULB and Panchayat polls statement comes four days after he said at the India-wide launch of county's new banking behemoth, India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) that these polls were necessary and people should understand that their future would improve by participating in these elections. Abdullah said if the attempts to fiddle with Article 35-A were allowed then the basis of the relationship between the State and GoI would be severely affected. He said NC's Core Group had a discussion about the prevailing situation in the State with particular reference to Article 35-A of the constitution. The three-time chief minister said the Core Group felt that any tinkering with Article 35-A would prove disastrous not only for Jammu Kashmir but for entire India. He said the stand of GoI and the present dispensation in Jammu Kashmir before the Supreme Court was clearly against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the State. Abdullah said GoI and State government ignore that Article 35-A was incorporated in the constitution after thorough discussion between the then State government and the GoI and was made part of the Delhi Agreement, 1952. He said Article 35-A was approved by the State's Constituent Assembly as envisaged under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The NC President said NC would fight tooth and nail all sinister attempts aimed at interfering with this constitutional guarantee for Jammu Kashmir. The poll boycott announced by NC is significant as days before it emerged as the single-largest party in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil polls with 10 seats trouncing the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that managed to get only one seat and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with two seats. Abdullah's poll boycott call comes after the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik already announced complete boycott of the ULB and Panchayat polls. Meanwhile, NC's Vice President and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the ball was now in the GoI's court. 'It is now for GoI to clarify where it stands with regard to Art 35-A. It's not enough to use Panchayat and municipal polls simply to delay proceedings in the court,' Omar tweeted. The State government announced the ULB and Panchayat polls last week with the ULB polls slated for the first week of October while Panchayat polls scheduled to be held in November-December this year. The hearing in the Article 35-A petitions was deferred last week by the Supreme Court after the State government's counsel informed the court that the government was engaged in the preparation of ULB and Panchayat polls.