SRINAGAR: In a dramatic U-turn, the National Conference (NC) said on Sunday that it will take part in the panchayat elections next month if certain “road blocks” are removed. This is in sharp contrast to the 2018 panchayat polls when the NC, along with PDP, boycotted the democratic process in protest against the reading down of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
In a letter addressed to Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar, NC central secretary Rattan Lal Gupta stated the party respects the democratic right of people to elect representatives at different levels of polity. “In the given circumstances when NC, which is a strong votary of democratic process, wishes to participate, it is practically impossible for the party in view of the fact that the top leadership including its president vice president and general secretary are under detention under PSA,” the letter said. The eight-phase elections to about 12,650 vacant panch and sarpanch seats in Jammu and Kashmir are slated to be held from March 5 on party basis. continued on
‘The democratic process adopted is deeply flawed’
It will be first major poll exercise in J&K after the reading down of Article 370.“Various other senior leaders are also under detention in Kashmir and so the process of selecting candidates, giving mandates and campaigning under the given circumstances is impossible,” the letter added.The letter sought advice as to how these roadblocks can be overcome. “If the aim is to create conditions to exclude all other parties except BJP then nothing more needs to be said. But if the aim is to create a genuine... grassroots democracy then the process adopted is deeply flawed,” it stated.