J&K Cong to participate in municipal, panchayat polls

State Congress Chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir (C) addresses a press conference regarding elections, in Srinagar on Wednesday. Congress Party has decided to contest upcoming elections while National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have boycotted. PTI

Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress on Wednesday announced that the party will participate in the upcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayat elections, saying that the decision was taken to keep the communal forces away. 

 
“The party (Congress) will not stay away from the elections to keep the ground open for the communal forces but we will fight with the full might,” State Congress Chief G A Mir said while addressing a press conference, here.
 
The ULB polls will be held in four phases between October 8 and 16 while the Panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in nine phases from November 17 to December 11.
 
The two major regional parties - National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have already announced that they will not 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 state unit of CPM has also decided to stay away from the poll process.
 
In August, Centre had sought a delay in the date of hearing in the case from the apex court citing the conduct of municipal and Panchayat elections in the state. Despite the poll boycott call by the NC and the PDP, the state election commission announced that the elections will be held as per schedule.
 
The participation of Congress party in the polls will be a boost to the Center’s efforts to hold the ULB and Panchayat elections in the insurgency-hit state. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Monday urged political parties in the state to participate in the upcoming polls.
 
Militants have already warned candidates against taking part in the polls while separatists have called for a boycott.  On Tuesday two panchayat buildings in Tral, one in Pulwama and one in Shopian all in volatile south Kashmir, were set ablaze by unidentified persons.
 
The security agencies are chalking out a proper roadmap to hold the polls violence free. “Security forces will draw a plan to ensure trouble-free panchayat polls. Designated places will be earmarked for rallies given the precarious security situation,” a senior police official said. 

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J&K Cong to participate in municipal, panchayat polls

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