SRINAGAR: Uncertainty looms over holding of municipal and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir after the National Conference (NC), a major political party in the state, decided to boycott elections till the Centre cleared its stand on Article 35A, which grants special privileges to residents of the State.
Three-time chief minister and NC president Farooq Abdullah has linked participation in urban local body and panchayat polls in the state with safeguarding of Article 35A, which bars outsiders from purchasing land and property in J&K and getting government jobs and scholarships.
The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A, and has deferred the hearing till January.
Barring the BJP, all mainstream parties, including National Conference, PDP, Congress, the separatists, traders, lawyers, and civil society groups favour continuation of Article 35A and have warned against any tinkering with the law.
After the NC decided to boycott the ULB and panchayat polls, the PDP of Mehbooba Mufti would find it difficult to participate in the polls.
According to insiders in PDP, the party has decided against contesting the ULB and panchayat polls till the Central government clears its stand on Article 35A.
They said the party would have announced their boycott to the polls but “it was felt that it will be seen as a reaction to NC’s boycott to polls. So the party may take couple of days before announcing boycott of the polls”.
The Governor’s administration has announced 4-phase urban local body and eight-phase panchayat polls from October-December.
The ULB polls are scheduled to be held from October 1 to October 5 while the eight-phase panchayat polls would be conducted from November 8 to December 4.