October 2019 News

'Hesitant' Cong Decides To Contest BDC Poll In J&K

4 October 2019
The Tribune
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: After questioning the intention of the ruling BJP to conduct the Block Development Council (BDC) elections amid unprecedented restrictions and detention of political leaders, the Opposition Congress on Friday decided to not to give 'walkover' to the Saffron Party by announcing to contest these polls. 'Despite our strong reservations over measures being adopted by the ruling BJP to gag the voice of the Opposition, the Congress has decided to contest the BDC elections to strengthen democracy in J&K,' spokesman of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Ravinder Sharma told The Tribune after attending a meeting of senior party leaders held this evening. 'We will not give walkover to the BJP, so the party has decided to contest polls despite the fact that the situation is not conducive for the same,' he said and alleged that in the prevailing atmosphere when all Opposition leaders were either detained or under restrictions, the BDCs elections were announced only to give a free field to the BJP. Meanwhile, highly placed sources said the Congress leadership was divided on the issue of participating in the BDC elections as the Valley-based leaders were against joining the electoral battle at this point of time. 'Boycotting elections means giving walkover to the BJP in the whole of J&K, so Jammu-based leaders convinced the leadership to join the electoral battle', a source said, adding, 'A large number of Congress supporters, who have won the panchayat elections warned the leadership that the party would be completely wiped out from grassroots level if free field was given to the BJP in the BDCs polls'. On September 24, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of J&K had announced the BDC elections on party basis despite the fact that the panchayat elections were held on a non-party basis. Out of the total 316 BDCs, spread over Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions, the elections will be held for 310 BDCs. Only sarpanches and panches will form the electoral college for the elections to the BDC chairpersons. 'We are of the opinion that the situation is not conducive for conducting the BDC elections,' Congress spokesperson said, questioning, 'If the situation is conducive for polls, why 60 per cent of the seats of the panchayat members, numbering 12,052 which are vacant in Kashmir valley, have not been filled during the past 10 months since the last panchayat elections to give them right to vote in these polls?'