PDP too to stay away from local body polls in J&K

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Srinagar : Two days after the National Conference announced its decision to stay away from the local body polls, the Peoples Democratic Party on Friday too decided not to participate in the upcoming municipal and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

After a meeting of the PDP Political Affairs Committee, chaired by former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, party spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir told reporters: "Strong apprehensions continue in the minds of people regarding the future of Article 35-A.

"The manner in which the government sought adjournment of the hearing on the Article 35-A in the Supreme Court and also the hurry with which municipal and panchayat polls have been announced, it is not possible for us to take part in these elections.

He said unless the apprehensions expressed by the people with regard to Article 35-A are satisfactorily addressed, "we feel holding of municipal and panchayat polls would be a futile exercise".

On Wednesday, NC President Farooq Abdullah had said: "Our party will not contest the panchayat and municipal polls until the Centre clears its position on Article 35A granting special rights to the residents and takes effective steps for its protection."

The Supreme Court on August 31 deferred the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, as the Centre urged the Court to take up the matter after panchayat elections in the state.

The elections spread over eight phases will conclude in December.