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Didn’t ask people to boycott civic polls: Omar

Srinagar, Sep 13: Senior National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah on Thursday said his party did not ask people to boycott the panchayat and municipal elections.

“National Conference (NC) has decided to boycott the polls, but we did not ask people not to participate in the elections. We did not launch any poll-boycott campaign neither are we on the same page with the separatists,”Omar told a press conference here.
He said if the government was thinking of conducting elections without the participation of two major parties, they can go ahead.
“The NC has footprints in all the regions of the state, and the PDP has its own importance. Yet, the people can participate in the elections,” he said.
Asked about the elections held in Kargil, he said, “Those polls were not connected to the Article 35A. It is the centre that opened the chapter and connected elections with this legislation.”
The political parties want deferment of the Article 35A hearing and removal of Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta from the case till a new government gets elected in Jammu and Kashmir.
Omar said the NC President, Farooq Abdullah, had invited leaders of political parties for a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the political and security situation of the state.
“It was unanimously agreed in the all-party meeting that hearing of Article 35A has to be deferred till elections are held and new government is in place in the state,”Omar said.
He said Jammu and Kashmir “is under the centre’s rule and New Delhi is yet to clear the stand over Article 35A”.
“The governor rule is directly under central government’s control. We don’t know the position of the centre government over Article 35A. There are apprehensions regarding defence of the case in Supreme Court. So, the case shall not proceed until J&K has an elected government,Omar, former chief minister of the state, said.
“We have also decided that we will write to government that we want elections to take place first so that there is elected government in the valley and then this case can be defended,” he said.
He said everybody was on the same page to defend the legislation.
“Even BJP MLAs have given statements in support of Article 35A,” he said.
The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the case till the second week of January in view of the civic polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir, Ladakh and parts of Jammu had observed shutdown several times for the last two months against a possible tampering with the legislation.
The National Conference leader said that politicians who participated in the meeting have called for removal of Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta from Article 35A case for “going beyond his brief”.
He said Mehta was sent to defend the state and the Article 35A case, as he was representing state government and not the central government.
“All the leaders in unison decided they don’t trust him. We all want that he should be taken off from the case when this comes up in January for hearing and previous advocate should be appointed to defend the state,” the National Conference leader said.
During the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, Mehta had said that Article 35A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon and claimed, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A)”.
However, the PDP did not participate in the meeting. “We knew what the agenda of the meeting was, so we did not participate in it,” PDP Chief Spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said.
The NC and PDP have announced that they will boycott the upcoming panchayat and municipal elections in the state.
Both the rival parties have made it clear that they will not contest the election unless the Centre clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
Omar meets Guv
Omar Thursday met Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday.
Omar apprised the Governor about his views regarding the prevailing law and order, education and development scenario in the State and about certain development issues relating to his Constituency.
He also apprised Governor about his Party’s views on the upcoming elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats.
The duo discussed the importance of empowering people by strengthening local self-governing institutions at grass root level and measures required to be taken for the restoration of peace and normalcy and creating an environment suitable for the holistic development of the youth.