Article 35 A: NC announces election boycott

SRINAGAR: Keeping in view the situation, the Jammu Kashmir National Conference party on Wednesday said that the party would not contest upcoming Panchayat and Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

NC President Dr Farooq Abdullah presiding over the meeting of NC Core Group that decided boycott of Panchayat elections. Photo: NC

“Party won’t contest the upcoming Panchayat and municipal elections as the situation is not conducive for the elections,” National Conference President Farooq Abdullah said while briefing to media in Srinagar.

The marathon meeting, an insider said, continued for more than three hours. “The members of the core group discussed every facet of the situation but unfortunately we came to the conclusions that there was no possibility of holding free and fair local body polls in this situation,” the member said. “The decision was that the Government of India and the state government must clarify its position and offer a clear mechanism for its safeguard within and outside the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Party’s MLA for Budgam Agha Ruhullah wrote on his Twitter handle: “The National Conference will not participate in the Panchayat and ULB elections unless and until the GOI clears its position with regard to Art 35-A. And takes effective steps to safeguard it inside and outside the Courts.”

The NC decision came days ahead of the issuance of the formal notification by the governor’s administration. NC decision coincided with the governor Satya Pal Malik presided over his first meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC). The idea of holding polls was earlier postponed by the elected government on basis of the security situation but the central government is keen to hold the exercise. Even the former governor N N Vohra had personally suggested against these elections.

NC issued a detailed statement on the core group meeting.

“The Core Group had a detailed discussion about the prevailing situation of the state with particular reference to Article 35 A of the Constitution. It was felt that any tinkering with Art 35 A would prove disastrous not only for our state but for the entire country.

The role of the central government and the present dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir before the Hon’ble SC goes clearly against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state. They conveniently ignore that this provision was incorporated in the Constitution after thorough discussion between the then state government and Government of India and was made a part of the Delhi Agreement 1952. It was also approved by the states Constituent Assembly as envisaged under Art 370 of the Constitution. It was resolved that National Conference would fight tooth and nail all sinister attempts aimed at interfering with this constitutional guarantee in any manner, whatsoever. Such attempts, if allowed, shall strike at the very basis of relationship between the state and the Union.

Recently announced Urban Local Body polls and Panchayat elections came under discussion. The core group felt that this decision was taken in a hurried manner without taking into consideration the prevailing situation created by the powers that be by unnecessarily fiddling with Art 35 A.

The core group unanimously decided that J&K National Conference will not participate in these elections unless and until Government of India and the state government clears its position in this regard and take effective steps for the protection of Art 35 A in and outside the Courts.”

“It is now for the central government to clarify where it stands with regard to Art 35-A,” Omar Abdullah, NC Vice President, wrote on twitter. “It’s not enough to use Panchayat & Municipal elections simply to delay proceedings in court.”

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