- National Conference announced it will boycott local body elections
- Decision over centre linking contentious case against Article 35A
- Perception that law may be fiddled with after polls: Mehbooba Mufti
Jammu and Kashmir's People's Democratic Party has also indicated it has reservations about local bodies' poll in the state a day after its bitter political rival National Conference said it would boycott the elections. The PDP, which ruled the state till recently with the BJP, said the centre's decision to seek deferment of Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A till after the panchayat elections, smacks of conspiracy.
Speaking to NDTV, former chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that people are expecting mischief after the centre sought that the hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court be deferred."It is difficult to ignore the public sentiment. There is apprehension that Article 35A may be fiddled with once these elections are over," said Ms Mufti.
Ms Mufti, who also headed the PDP-BJP government in the state till the BJP pulled off support in June, said the decision of National Conference to boycott elections has made these polls meaningless. "National Conference is the main regional party. What is the credibility of these elections when there is no contest?" she said.
The fight to preserve Article 35A has united political parties in Kashmir, most residents of the state, and separatists. All claim that Article 35A - which has been challenged in the Supreme Court -- is the bedrock on which special status has been promised to Kashmir in the constitution.
Special rights and privileges to Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the subjects on which the PDP and the BJP had been at odds. The alliance with BJP, which has claimed to be against some of these rights - is seen as a factor that has deeply disturbed a section of PDP supporters.
Article 35A defines permanent residents of the state and excludes outsiders from owning property and getting benefits including government jobs.
The BJP has also maintained that repealing Article 370 - an extension of Article 35A that allows the state its own constitution, flag and the right to handle its own laws except on matters that impact national security - is part of its core philosophy.
Yesterday, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah said his party will not contest in the elections until the central and the state governments "Clear their position and takes effective steps for the protection of Article 35A in and outside the courts".
Ms Mufti said she expects Governor Satyapal Malik to call an all-party meeting, after which the PDP would take a call. "Article 35A is an emotive issue and we will make our final decision after deliberations with people," the former Chief Minister added.