Rajnath asks J&K parties to contest panchayat polls

Rajnath asks J&K parties to contest panchayat polls

Home Minister Rajnath Singh (C) addresses the media as Mos for PMO Jitendra Singh (L) and DG BSF K K Sharma (R) look on, after the inauguration the first 'Smart Fence' pilot project along the Indo-Pak Border, in Jammu on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Appealing to political parties to participate in the upcoming panchayat and urban local body polls in Jammu & Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said it provides them with an opportunity to interact with the people.

“I would like to appeal that all the political parties should participate in the political process,” Singh said while addressing a press conference in Jammu, where he earlier inaugurated two smart fence pilot projects along the Indo-Pak border.

The home minister’s appeal came after two major regional parties - the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - announced that they would 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.

In August, the 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. 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.

Asked whether India has made all efforts to improve its relations with Pakistan, the home minister cited the impromptu visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the neighbouring country as a reference. “But we cannot change the behaviour of Pakistan. They will have to understand how to behave with a neighbour,” he said.

Singh, who was in Jammu to inaugurate two smart fence pilot projects along the Indo-Pak border, said, “Border security is our topmost priority. I am happy to inaugurate two pilot projects under CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System) today.”

“When I visited Israel, I saw this system there and immediately we started work on this project. Based on the feedback, the system will be made foolproof. I have launched two such pilot projects here. We will launch a similar 60 km long pilot project in Assam,” Singh said.