The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday announced the dates and schedule of the Jammu and Kashmir municipal elections even as prominent regional parties – the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – threatened to boycott the polls over the issue of Article 35A.
Elections to municipal corporations, councils and committees will be held in four phases starting from October 8, October 10, October 13 and October 16, Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra said in a press conference.
Voting for the local body polls will be held between 07:00 am to 02:00 pm and the counting of votes will take place on October 20, Kabra said. As many as 17 lakh voters will have their right to cast vote in the elections.
The announcement from the EC came days after Farooq Abdullah-led NC and Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP refused to contest the municipal and panchayat polls in the state, citing “atmosphere of fear” in the state due to the “assault” on the special constitutional rights of the people of the Valley.
The leaders of PDP and NC demanded the Centre to clear stand on the Article 35A as people of the state were having apprehensions that article 35A might be retracted. Former CM Mufti had once said that if Article 35A was tinkered with, there will be no one in Kashmir to uphold the national flag.
The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Article 35A of the Constitution which provides special rights and privileges to the people of Kashmir.