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Mehbooba Mufti says clubbing Article 35A issue with local body polls a ‘disastrous idea’

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PDP chief’s statement comes hours after the National Conference announced decision to boycott elections until Centre clarifies its stance on the issue.

New Delhi: Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday said clubbing the contentious issue of Article 35A with the upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir was a “disastrous idea” by the Central government.

Mufti made the statement hours after National Conference (NC) announced its decision to boycott the elections until the Centre clarified its stance on the issue.

“Mixing Article 35A with the panchayat polls and urban local body elections was a disastrous idea on behalf of the central government representative in the Supreme Court. It has further complicated the situation,” Mufti told ThePrint.

Article 35A grants the Jammu & Kashmir legislature the power to define the state’s permanent residents.

Also read: BJP wants Article 35A scrapped, but its Jammu MLA is sending out a warning

The Supreme Court last week adjourned the hearing of a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A till January next year. The Centre and state government sought the adjournment in view of the local elections.

Since June, Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor’s rule after the BJP withdrew from the coalition with the PDP.

Mufti said she will consult her party colleagues to decide the way forward.

‘Clarify stand’

On Wednesday, NC president and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah chaired a party meeting, announcing boycott of the panchayat and the local urban body election process scheduled to begin on 1 October.

“The core group (of NC) unanimously decided that the National Conference will not participate in these elections unless and until the government of India and the state government clarify their positions in this regard and take effective steps for protection of Article 35A in and outside the courts,” said Abdullah.

He added the decision of the state administration to hold urban local body polls and panchayat elections was taken in a “hurried manner”, without taking into consideration the prevailing situation “created by the powers that be by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35A”.

The urban civic body polls have not been held in the last eight years, while the panchayat elections were last conducted in 2011.

All-party meet

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the only party in the state that backs panchayat elections at this time. The party stood for conducting the elections even when Mufti called for an all-party meeting during the PDP-BJP coalition she led earlier. The other two parties — NC and PDP — opposed holding the polls then, raising security concerns and highlighting the deteriorating situation in south Kashmir.

“In my government, I had called an all-party meeting to discuss these elections and majority of the parties opposed holding of elections at that time. We expected that the governor too would have called an all-party meet where everyone would put forward their point of view,” said Mufti.

“We are still hopeful about that meet and would share our opinion with all the parties so that a consensus is built,” she added.

The State Administrative Council (SAC), headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik, announced last week that the elections to municipal bodies in the state will be conducted in four phases between 1 and 5 October.

Also read: What is Article 35A and why J&K is up in arms against attempts to ‘fiddle’ with it

The Joint Resistance Leadership, an alliance of separatist groups in Kashmir, Monday announced a boycott of these polls.

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  1. The big problem in the state of J &K is the existence of two Articles – 370 and 35A. The provisions under these two Articles prohibit and block the appearance of prosperity and tranquility in that part of India. Unfortunately, the politicians for their own selfish motive and prestige are playing a party partisan game and do not favor a revocation of these two Articles. Hence, the continuation and existence of chaotic situation in the state. Innocent people are being killed on a daily basis. Public and private properties are being destroyed in front of the eyes of these selfish politicians and they do not even ready to blink, and take a decisive action to remedy the situation. How unfortunate? When these two Articles were inserted into the Indian Constitution, the timing was different. Now with the advent of changing time, one should change and make appropriate provisions to set the record in order. Those who do not change with the time, stay behind. Is that what the local government wants for the people of Kashmir? Revocation of these two Articles is the only solution to bring peace, prosperity and tranquility in Kashmir. THE BALL IS IN THE COURT OF POLITICIANS- ESPECIALLY THE POLITICIANS AT THE STATE LEVEL.

  2. Article 35A deprived Kashmir from being at per with other states of India. This is a kind of suppression and it is helping separating force and damaging interest of people of Kashmir. Development and many positive activities cannot take place in Kashmir under article 35A. The dynasty congress and political parties are using these as vote bank politics and keeping Kashmir as permanent unrest state. If Kashmir is treated separately, the Muslims majority state close to Pakistan ( terrorist country) is likely to be an ISIS dominated area and people of India will loose the battle.

  3. It would be better to avoid precipitate moves. The bye election to the Anantnag seat vacated by Ms Mehbooba Mufti remains pending. Dr Farooq Abdullah – three generations of whose family have stood by India – won from Srinagar with 7% turnout. The immediate concern should be to bring down levels of violence, prepare the state to participate in the next general election.

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