PDP won’t contest Municipal and Panchayat elections in J&K: Mehbooba Mufti

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will boycott the municipal and panchayat elections in October, party chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday, citing an “atmosphere of fear” due to the “assault on the special constitutional position” of Jammu and Kashmir.

The announcement came after a meeting of top PDP leaders at Mufti’s residence in Srinagar earlier.

The former chief minister said that the linking of the local body elections with an Article 35A case in Supreme Court “has created serious apprehensions in the minds of people who genuinely see it as assault on the special constitutional position of the state”.

“It was felt that any attempt to impose any electoral exercise in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension would seriously erode the credibility of the process and institutions. It would defeat the very purpose of it,” she said.

Article 35A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state. A petition in the Supreme Court has questioned the validity of the Article. The hearing in the case was adjourned to January 2019 after the state had pleaded for deferment of hearing till the panchayat elections were conducted.

Announcing the boycott decision, Mufti asked the state government to review its decision to hold polls at this juncture.

Last week, the National Conference had announced its decision to boycott the panchayat and municipal elections. The BJP will participate in the polls while the Congress leadership is meeting on Wednesday to take decision on its participation.

The municipal and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir are set to be held from October 1 till the first week of November.

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