STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP on Monday announced it will boycott the Municipal and Panchayat elections to be held next month, days after the National Conference announced its decision to stay away from the polls.
Addressing reporters after the party meeting, former Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said they will not contest the polls as the prevailing situation was not favourable.
“We will go to any extent to protect Article 35A,” said Mufti at a press conference in Srinagar.
She said the people of the State have “sacrificed a lot” and no one can fiddle with the validity of Article 35 A.
PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir told reporters unless the apprehensions expressed by the people with regard to Article 35A are satisfactorily addressed, “we feel holding of Municipal and Panchayat polls will be a futile exercise”.
The move comes just days after the National Conference announced that it will not contest the Panchayat polls and even the 2019 elections “until and unless the Government of India and the State Government clear their position on Article 35 A and takes effective steps to protect Article 35 A in and outside the Court”.
Article 35A, which gives special rights to people in the State and bars outsiders from owning immovable property, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court had on August 31 deferred the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, as the Centre urged the Court to take up the matter after Panchayat elections in the State. Meanwhile, the PDP received a shot in the arm as a ‘rebel’ MLA attended a meeting of the organisation.
Javed Hassan Beg, the MLA from Baramulla, was part of a group of legislators who had opened a rebellion against Party President Mehbooba Mufti’s leadership.
He attended the meeting of party’s senior leaders, legislators and parliamentarians at PDP president Mehbooba’s residence, a senior PDP leader said.
He said it was the first time that Beg attended any party meeting after the rebellion in the PDP.
Beg was one of the seven legislators of the PDP who had openly rebelled against Mehbooba’s leadership immediately after the party’s coalition with the BJP fell apart. They had accused Mehbooba of nepotism.
In a press conference on July 13, Beg, accompanied by MLA Pattan Imran Ansari, MLA Noorabad Abdul Majid Padder and two MLCs, also accused Mehbooba of putting them and their families at risk by claiming that the internal rumblings in the party were being done at the behest of Delhi.
“One, she has tried to give an impression that the institution is up for sale that anyone can buy them. Second, she has tried to label us that we are dancing to someone’s tunes. This is like putting us before the lynching mob, this can put our families and workers at risk,” he had told reporters.
Ansari’s uncle — MLA Zadibal Abid Ansari — and MLA Tangmarg Abbas Wani were the other two PDP legislators who also openly rebelled against Mehbooba.
The party welcomed Beg’s attendance in the meeting, saying the legislator is part of the PDP family.
“He is part of the family and there are misunderstandings in every family and when someone in the family has any resentment or complaints, those are addressed. Whatever he had against the party, has been addressed and we welcome him,” the PDP leader said. He said the party was hopeful that other dissident legislators would also return to the party fold.
“We are hopeful and we will try to get them back,” the leader said. Beg was not available for comment.
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