Civic polls from Oct 8, to be held in 4 phases
THE TWO MAINSTREAM PARTIES, NC AND PDP, HAVE DECIDED TO BOYCOTT THE LOCAL BODY ELECTIONS
Local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in four phases starting October 8, the state chief electoral officer (CEO) announced on Saturday.
Polling for municipal councils and committees will be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 18, CEO Shaleen Kabra said. Counting will be held on October 20.
Kabra said the notification for the first phase would be issued on September 18, and that for phases 2, 3 and 4 on September 20, 22 and 24. About 1.7 million voters will have the right to cast their franchise in these elections, he said. Polling will be held from 7 am to 2 pm.
The two big mainstream parties, National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have decided to boycott the municipal and panchayat elections, citing an “atmosphere of fear” due to the “assault on the special constitutional position” of Jammu and Kashmir.
Leaders of both parties have said that linking the local body elections to an Article 35A case in the Supreme Court “has created serious apprehensions in the minds of people who genuinely see it as an assault on the special constitutional position of the state”.
The Congress has also said that the time is not conducive for these elections. However, Congress state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the party would take a decision on participating in the polls only after the election notification is issued.
There are apprehensions in Jammu & Kashmir, which is under governor’s rule, that Article 35A might be scrapped. The Supreme Court is hearing petitions on Article 35A, which empowers the J&K legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. But the hearings have been put off to January to pre-empt any breakdown in law and order.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who met J&K governor Satya Pal Malik recently, has asked the NC and the PDP to review their decision against participating in the polls.