J&K Cong reviewing decision to contest BDC polls

The Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress on Tuesday said it is reviewing its decision to participate in the Block Development Council elections in view of the continued restrictions on majority of its senior leaders in the valley.

Block Development Council (BDC) polls will be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on August 5.

Pradesh Congress Committee chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said there was no cooperation from the government even after his party expressed its willingness to participate in the polls despite strong reservations about the conduciveness of the situation in the state.

"The party is taking a fresh review of the overall scenario with regard to BDC elections in the wake of continued restrictions on the majority of senior party leaders in the entire Kashmir Valley," he said.

Mainstream political leaders in the valley, including two former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced dilution of provisions of Article 370 over two months ago.

The state administration said last week that political leaders under house arrest in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner after proper analysis of every individual.

Sharma said the government unilaterally announced the polls on party basis.

State Congress president G A Mir is consulting top party functionaries and senior leaders with regard to the BDC elections, he added.

Meanwhile, the National Panthers Party (NPP), which will also be contesting the BDC elections, accused the state administration of violating the model code of conduct (MCC).

NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh alleged that the governor's advisors were using official vehicles to visit grievance redressal camps and announcing new schemes during their public meetings.

The announcement of establishment of a new tribal hostel in the valley, extension of electricity schedule by seven hours, augmentation of power infrastructure in Gurez, and provision of adequate supply of fuel and gas cylinders in Kashmir were made in violation of the guidelines, he said.

Singh said the government is issuing daily advertisements enumerating the benefits of abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, which is being encashed by the BJP.

The advertisements are being regularly published in newspapers even with the MCC in force, while the election authorities remain a "mute spectator", he said. PTI TAS DIV DIV

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