Mufti, Omar won't contest polls unless conditions met

Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah won't contest polls unless conditions met

Mufti has made the restoration of J&K's special status a pre-condition to participate in elections

Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah. Credit: PTI/AFP Photo

With two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir - Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti - making their participation in Assembly elections conditional after their recent meeting with the Prime Minister, it may further delay the poll process in the Union Territory.
 
Mehbooba, the president of the regional PDP, who was among 14 J&K leaders who held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on June 24, after coming out of the meeting made the restoration of J&K's special status a pre-condition to participate in elections.

"This issue is not merely a political slogan and I will not contest any election till 35A and 370 are restored," she said. "Be it months or years, we'll restore Article 370 in J&K as it's a matter of our identity."

Also read — No option but to talk to Centre: J&K leaders

Similarly, Omar - vice president of the National Conference (NC) - has made the restoration of statehood to J&K a pre-condition for his participation in the Assembly polls. 

Omar, a former union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had last year also made the same assertions. However, both the NC and the PDP contested district development council (DDC) polls held in J&K for the first time in November-December last year.

A senior PDP leader, on condition of anonymity, said that Mehbooba's condition for participation in polls could put the party in a tight spot. "We have seen in the past also when we boycotted panchayat and municipal polls in 2018 that it only harms the interests of Kashmiris and our party. If Mehboobaji stays away from the polls, there is no face in the PDP," he said.

Also read: No smiles in Kashmir after politicians' meet with PM Modi in Delhi

"In my opinion, it is an immature statement by Mehboobaji to link her participation in the polls to the restoration of the special status of J&K. As we know restoration of special status is next to impossible, the party president's condition can damage the PDP further," the leader rued.

A political observer commenting on Omar's and Mehbooba's conditions said, "Not only Omar but almost all the parties except BJP are on the same page when it comes to restoration of statehood. However, Mehbooba's condition is next to impossible for the Centre to fulfill."

"In all likelihood, these statements will further delay the democratic process in J&K. The two leaders are under pressure from the voters. They just want to show their voters that they are not going to participate in the elections on New Delhi's terms and that is why they have kept such conditions," he added.
 

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