JAMMU: The state Congress took a U-turn on Wednesday and decided against contesting the forthcoming Block Development Council (BDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The party has decided not to contest the BDC polls, which would be held on October 24. The decision to stay away was taken after the government did not release the detained Congress leaders despite giving indications in this regard,” state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said.
Another Congress leader said the government had assured the Congress leaders during meetings that some of the detained party leaders would be released before the polls.
Many Congress leaders, including ex-ministers and legislators, were detained by authorities after scrapping of Article 370 by the Centre on August 5.
“Today (Wednesday), was the last day of filing of nomination and none of our detained leaders have been released. The leaders, who could have played a key role in mobilising workers, are behind bars and hence it will be impossible for the party to contest,” the Congress leader said.
Earlier, the Congress had said that the party will contest the polls to give a fight to the BJP so that it is not a one-sided affair.
Mainstream political leaders in the Valley, including former CMs Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have either been detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced abrogation of Article 370.
The J&K BJP slammed the Congress, the PDP and the NC for not contesting the first-ever BDC polls being held in the state on October 24.
State BJP spokesperson Brig (Retd) Anil Gupta said the “hollowness” of the three parties had been exposed and they were unable to digest the effort made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen democracy in the state.