With National Conference (NC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP), the two main parties in Jammu and Kashmir, deciding to boycott the upcoming urban local body polls, the state government is likely to defer the exercise till January next year.
Sources said a formal decision in this regard is likely to be by the State Advisory Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik later in the day.
As NC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have made it clear that they won’t participate in the poll exercise until the Centre makes its position clear on safeguarding Article 35A, a constitutional provision that bars non-state residents from buying land and applying in various government jobs in the State, the Center wants to give to them to review their boycott decision, they said.
The SAC on August 30 announced that the elections to urban local bodies in the state will be held between October 1 and October 5. Panchayat elections - not held in the state since 2011 - are scheduled to be held between November 8 and December 4.
However, just a week later National Conference patron and MP Farooq Abdullah announced that his party won’t participate in the polls unless Central and State governments assured protection for Article 35A.
On Monday, PDP too announced to boycott these polls. “The situation created by linking panchayat polls with the case pending in Supreme Court about Article 35A has created apprehensions in the minds of the people, who genuinely see an assault on the special constitutional position of the state,” PDP President and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti told reporters after chairing a party meet.
“Looking at the (prevailing) situation, we have decided to stay away from the (election) process,” she announced.
Militants have already warned candidates against taking part in the polls while separatists have called for a boycott. Article 35A has been challenged in the Supreme Court. In August, the top court deferred the case till January 2019.
J&K has 79 municipal bodies including Municipal Corporations in twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu. Of 41 municipal bodies in Kashmir, 20 fall in south Kashmir’s four districts where government failed to hold by-elections for parliament seat spread over these districts since 2016.