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news details
Civic polls and Abdullahs' U-turn
Dangerous game
9/10/2018 12:09:57 AM
Early Times Report

JAMMU, Sep 9: The day J&K Government made an announcement to hold civic polls in the state, NC chief Farooq Abdullah had claimed boycotting polls won't help anybody. "It won't resolve Kashmir issue and neither India nor Pakistan can benefit from it. It is for the betterment and development of people of the state," he had said
Clearly, he was referring to militants and separatists. He had maintained: "There are some people who have called for a poll boycott. But I want to inform you that these people are making fortune out of people's miseries. They want to keep the pot boiling as it suits their interests."
"This situation has led to colossal losses, our economy is badly impacted. Look at our hotels they are empty, tourists are not coming to Kashmir, our famous tourism destination Gulmarg is empty, businesses are suffering losses," he had also said, adding that "only those who are getting benefitted from this mess want people to boycott polls'. "They won't' let these polls take place as they don't want peace to prevail in the Valley," he had asserted.
While urging people to participate in polls, Farooq Abdullah had told them that if the people of J&K want their future bright, they should participate in elections.
"This election is important for future if you want to make future of children bright then they should participate in it. If Kashmiri youth want to make their future we have to make them competent to compete with the youth of India," he had said and asked: "How can your youth compete when our schools are closed?"
But just four days later, when the core group of NC met in Srinagar to take stock of the prevailing political situation, Farooq Abdullah claimed that the decision to hold the polls had been taken in a "hurried" manner without taking into consideration the prevailing situation "created by the powers that be, by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35A".
Reading out a statement after the meeting, Abdullah told reporters: "The core group unanimously decided that the National Conference will not participate in these elections unless and until the government of India and the state government clear their position in this regard and take effective steps for protection of Article 35-A in and outside the courts".
Why is Farooq Abdullah running away from civic polls?
On the surface, Farooq Abdullah and his coterie might have decided to boycott the civic polls to put pressure on the Government of India and the state government to clarify their position and take effective steps for protection of Article 35-A in and outside the courts, but in reality the party leaders are shying away from throwing their hat in the poll arena for a variety of reasons.
Kashmir-watchers opine that the "decision taken by the National Conference has brought them on the same page with separatists and is largely seen as an attempt to scuttle the process of strengthening the democratic institutions at the grassroots level". "As a responsible political party in the state, the National Conference should have avoided taking this call of boycotting the poll at this crucial juncture".
Kashmir-watchers have also opined that "in the wake of the current security situation in different parts of Kashmir valley, National Conference leadership is struggling to find candidates who can win these elections for the party".
Besides, they have suggested that the "constant flip-flop and lack of sincerity on the part of National Conference leadership has already resulted in a constant decline in the vote share in support of the party".
Many Kashmir-watchers have said: "The Union Government should stay firm and go ahead with the polls if they wish to secure the future of parliamentary democracy in the State. Otherwise, the BJP led government at the centre would be held responsible by the posterity for pushing the state back to the days of 1990 when holding elections was considered a difficult task". At the same time, they have said that the "centre cannot penalize people living in Jammu and Ladakh for no fault of theirs and deprive them the fruits of power by empowering them at the grassroots level by going ahead and conducting the civic polls in the state".
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