In a dangerous precedent that could prove harmful for the future of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the two prominent regional parties, PDP (People’s Democratic Party) and NC (National Conference) have declared an official boycott of the upcoming municipal cum panchayat polls to be held in various towns, districts and villages of Jammu & Kashmir.
Following the Central Government’s plea to reconsider the decision regarding Article 35A after the local polls, the NC and PDP have decided to boycott the elections until the Centre clarifies their stance on the same. Article 35A of the Indian constitution gives special status to the residents of Jammu & Kashmir, and prevents outsiders from having possession of immovable property.
This decision to boycott elections is not only atrocious, but also sets a dangerous precedent for the opposition, who is too eager to remove the incumbent NDA in power. These are local body polls, and despite the imposition of governor’s rule, the central government is pulling out all stops to ensure that democracy at the local level functions smoothly. As such, a boycott only signifies the extreme intolerance of the political parties towards the democratic rule in the valley.
To everyone’s surprise, even the mentioned parties, this decision wasn’t even accepted by the citizens of the state as well. Led by All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference, the people vociferously protested against this absurd decision of boycotting the elections.
To quote the AKJPC President Anil Sharma, “They are dragging Panchayati Raj Institutions into their dirty politics of blackmail… Both the parties have resorted to their age old tactics of blackmailing the Government of India and the state government for their vested interests…These institutions have nothing to do with any political outfit of the state. We will not allow these parties to scuttle the election process for political gains.” The AKJPC also staged protests and burnt the effigies of NC President Farooq Abdullah and NC President Mehbooba Mufti.
Regarding the reasons for boycotting the elections, the AKJPC swooped down on that as well. To quote the party president, “The matter of article 35 A is sub judice, and the PDP and NC should not use panchayats to influence the court of law.”
Joining the dissenters were scores of residents in various towns such as Baramulla and Pulwama, where they vociferously protested against the boycott decision. To quote one such protesting forum, named the Jammu & Kashmir Awam Forum, “The convention firmly spoke against the double standards of separatists and political parties – mainly the National Conference boycotting upcoming local bodies and panchayat elections, who are actually responsible for such menace in the society, militancy, violence, insurgency, corruption and addiction… It is an unmistakable appeal to all peace-loving residents to unite and fight against divisional forces and restore the valley to its former glory by taking a step towards participating in state body’s upcoming elections.”
The protests also signify the willingness of the masses to let the democratic movement thrive in the Kashmir Valley. They’re tired of incessant stone pelting, terror attacks, followed by false promises made by the NC and PDP in their successive governments. If they’re hell bent on boycotting the elections, the Central Government must not give any attention to them and proceed with the elections, for democracy cannot be held ransom to the whims and fancies of demagogues and power mongers.