Tribune News Service
Jammu, February 16
The National Conference today expressed willingness to participate in the next month’s panchayat polls provided all detained political leaders are released.
In a letter written to Shailendra Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh, Rattan Lal Gupta, central secretary of the NC, said, the party believed in strengthening democracy at the grassroots level.
“In the given circumstances, when the J&K National Conference, which is a strong votary of democratic process, wishes to participate in polls, it is practically impossible for the party in view of the fact that the top leadership, including its president Dr Farooq Abdullah, vice-president Omar Abdullah and general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar are under detention under the Public Safety Act. Various other senior leaders are also under detention in Kashmir and so the process of selecting candidates, giving mandates and campaigning under the given circumstances is impossible,” he said in the letter, adding, “We reiterate our commitment to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level. However, for a genuine political exercise to happen, it is important that the mainstream political thought, which is a unifying force, is allowed to freely propagate and demonstrate its ideology. For this to happen, a political ecosystem has to be developed to ensure that the democratic institutions, for which elected members are elected, become genuine and credible reflectors of the peoples’ aspirations”.
“Kindly advice as to how these roadblocks that have been placed in the way of participation in the panchayat elections can be overcome. If the aim is to create conditions to exclude all other parties except the BJP then nothing more needs to be said but if the aim is to create a genuine culture of grassroots democracy then the process adopted is a deeply flawed one. As the notification for the first phase of the election has already been issued, time is of the essence. We would appreciate an early response to allow us to move forward,” Gupta wrote in his letter.
Although panchayat elections were held on non-party basis in 2019, the NC had boycotted the Block Development Councils’ polls — the second tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions — held on the party basis. The NC had also boycotted Urban Local Bodies elections held in October 2019.
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