The local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir scheduled to be held in the first week of October is likely to be deferred, sources told NDTV. The decision has come after two major regional parties, the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP announced boycott of local elections until the Centre makes its position clear on safeguarding Article 35A.
A formal decision is likely to be taken by State Advisory Council (SAC) headed by J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik today. Sources say the elections for Urban Local Bodies will be deferred till January.
For now, there will be no change in Panchayat elections scheduled to be held in November and December.
The Jammu and Kashmir state is under governors rule after BJP pulled out of PDP led government in June.
Sources say the centre wants to give time to mainstream parties to review their boycott decision which was defeating the very purpose of holding these elections. The boycott has threatened India’s safety Valve in Kashmir because it’s the first time when unionist parties in Kashmir have found a common cause with separatist idea of boycotting elections.
BJP has said that it will contest these elections and termed National Conference and PDP as opportunistic parties for boycotting polls. The party general secretary and incharge of Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav met with Governor Malik yesterday and also held meetings with party office bearers in Srinagar.
The deferment of elections is seen as major victory for regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Last week Farooq Abdullah announced the boycott of local elections and even threatened to stay away from assembly and parliament elections as well. The PDP followed the suit and announced to distance itself from polls. Independent MLA Engineer Rashid was the first mainstream politician to call for a boycott.
The parties have linked their participation in these elections with New Delhis stand on safeguarding article 35A, the constitutional provision which is considered as corner stone of Kashmir’s special constitutional status in Indian Union. The article passed through a Presidential order in 1954 has been challenged before the Supreme Court. The SC has deferred the hearing till January next year after the central Govt sought deferment citing holding of panchayat and civic elections in the state.
The regional parties hit back with the same election stick. “We will not participate before the issue is resolved and safeguard of article 35A is assured”.
Sources say after deferring of civic polls, the government wants to reach out to regional parties to find a way out so that elections for local governance and electoral process doesn’t become a casualty.