February 2020 News

Ready For Panchayat Polls But Release Leaders: NC Writes To ECI

16 February 2020
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: The National Conference (NC) on Sunday decided to contest the upcoming panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir but asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) 'to remove the roadblocks by releasing the incarcerated leadership'. In a letter to J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shalendra Kumar, NC central secretary Rattan Lal Gupta said: 'We reiterate our commitment to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level.' Stating that the NC was a strong votary of the democratic process and wished to participate in it, the NC spokesman said it was practically impossible for the party as the top leadership, including president Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Ali Muhammad Sagar, had been arrested under the Public Safety Act. 'Kindly advise as how these roadblocks that have been placed in the way of participation in the panchayat elections can be over,' the letter addressed to the ECI reads. The NC also took exception to the ECI decision to hold polls for vacant 11639 panch and sarpanch seats on party basis. 'The schedule is prima facie defective since these elections were earlier held on non-party basis,' the letter said. The NC decision is in contrast to the earlier stand where it stayed way from the panchayat polls in 2018 over the issue of Article 370 and Article 35A. The PDP, another regional party, is yet to decide on these polls. PDP leader Firdous Tak said most of the leaders, who are part of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), are behind the bars and booked under PSA. 'We are not even in position to discuss panchayat polls,' he said. CPI(M) secretary G.N. Malik said the political situation in J&K was not conducive for holding by-elections for panchayats. 'At a time when most of the political leaders are under detention or their movements have been curtailed, such exercise will not yield the desired results,'he said. The Congress, which participated in the 2018 elections, alleged that a particular party was being provided with every facility, including security, and free passage. 'The party is going to hold a meeting soon on its participation,' said Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga.

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