New Delhi: In view of the prevailing security situation and continued restrictions on the majority of its senior leaders, the Congress party on Tuesday said it would boycott the upcoming local Block Development Council (BDC) election in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the “indifferent” attitude of the state administration towards the ground situation, particularly in Kashmir Valley, prompted the party to boycott the election.
“We will not participate in the Block Development Council election. How can political parties take part when leaders are under detention? The Election Commission should have consulted political parties before announcing the election,” Mir told Gulf News.
Mir, who was himself under house arrest in Jammu and was recently released, alleged that the election was being held only to facilitate the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as other national and regional parties would not be able to fight with their leaders currently under house arrest.
“Our leaders are under detention. Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. The state administration has kept political leaders under detention and does not allow political activity to take place in Kashmir,” Mir said.
BJP has decided to field 280 candidates out of 316 seats in the BDC election. BJP state president Ravinder Raina said the saffron party would support independent candidates on the remaining seats.
“We have decided to fight the BDC elections from 280 seats in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We have finalised the list of our candidates and are hopeful of a clean sweep in the elections. We will fight the elections with full vigour. Our cadre is ready for the polls,” Raina told Gulf News.
He said the BDC polls will be followed by the District Development Boards elections. BDC polls will be held on October 24.
Likewise, National Panthers Party (NPP) announced that it will participate in the BDC election with full force.
“Our party will fight on all the seats in BDC election and all district presidents, office bearers and members of the party will make all out efforts to win the election,” NPP chairman Harsh Dev Singh told the media.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah is under detention under the Public Safety Act which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial.
Former state chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have also been put under house arrest after revocation of Article 370.
Article 370 embodied special provisions for the state. It exempted Jammu and Kashmir from complete applicability of the Constitution of India.
Reacting to the development, activist Shehla Rashid said: “The Block Development Council polls are a sham electoral exercise which is being carried out by the government in order to convince the world that India is still a democracy.”
“In Kashmir, the people are deprived of the means to call an ambulance and other emergency services. How can they conduct election in such an atmosphere?” Rashid, a former vice-president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, said.
Political analyst Vijay Chaturvedi said the government should have filled over 12,052 seats in ‘Panchayats’ (local administrative body) in Jammu and Kashmir before conducting this election.
“This will be the first election to be held in Jammu and Kashmir since its special status was revoked. The government is issuing daily advertisements talking of benefits of abrogation of the state’s special status. The government should have also focused on filling the panchayat seats which remained vacant for a long time,” Chaturvedi told Gulf News.