Under ‘pressure’ from its cadre, PCC shows conditional interest

AVINAV VERMA. Updated: 2/18/2020 9:35:39 AM Front Page

JAMMU: The pressure from ground workers has prompted Congress to express conditional interest for participating in the scheduled Panchayat bypolls in Jammu and Kashmir for vacant seats of Sarpanches and Panches.
The Congress is ready to take part in the by-elections to panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir if its leaders are released and their free movement is ensured, party president for J&K G A Mir said on Monday.
"We challenge the BJP and the government to ensure the release of all Congress leaders and allow their free movement with adequate security, the party is willing to take part in the ongoing elections, despite strong reservations over the mode and manner of unilaterally conducting these elections on party basis, without taking all recognised mainstream parties on board," Mir told reporters here.
If the sources to be believed, the party workers were annoyed with decision of the party for not participating in Block Development Council (BDC) polls held last year in October.
Citing detention of political leaders as undemocratic, the Congress had boycotted BDC polls. The BDC polls were contested by BJP, NPP and Independent candidates.
“The party is losing its ground in Jammu region due to non-participation in democratic exercise. Recently, in BDC polls many independent candidates, who contested BDC polls and inclined towards the policies of Congress party, have joined BJP,” a party worker told The News Now.
“This is great setback for Congress party as many Sarpanch, Panchs and Independent elected BDC chairperson are joining BJP. We must participate in democratic exercise to strengthen the base and boost morale of workers. Moreover, the results of election results also help us to identify loopholes,” he added.
“Before, the announcement of JKPCC’s willingness to participate in panchayat by-polls, threadbare discussion was held between ground workers and senior leader,” he said.
“The party workers unanimously expressed interest to participate in the by-polls. Moreover, they also expressed concern over the detention of leaders and restrictions on the movement of political leaders,” he added.
“The party is willing to take part in the upcoming panchayat elections for vacant seats if the government ensured the release of all Congress leaders and allow their free movement with adequate security,” Jammu and Kashmir Pardesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) Chief G A Mir said while addressing a press conference in Jammu.
Earlier, slamming BJP for holding by-polls on party basis, GA Mir said “Over 60% seats in Kashmir valley had remained unfilled in last general elections but government had made tall claims of smooth and successful elections in Kashmir region. How elections on non-party basis and now on party basis are being held to the same institution.”
He said it is unique chapter of history, that the BJP government first forced elections to BDCs on party basis, by putting all opposition leaders behind bars or under strict elections and now again elections on party basis without allowing leaders of the parties except BJP, to resume political activities especially in the valley.
Only two days ago, even a private conference in Kashmir by an NGO was disallowed by the government but simultaneously announcing elections on party basis.
Blaming BJP of weakening PRIs during their tenure by retrograde amendments to the Panchayat Act, Mir said that Congress party strengthened the PRIs by introducing 73rd and 74th in the state laws after persuading our coalition partners.
“It was then Governor N N Vohra, who restored the law, to the 2014 position, after dismissal of PDP-BJP government. How BJP can claim to be champion of the PRIs and their powers, but now the Congress is being deliberately kept out of the loop,” he said
“We have faith in the people who would choose the right candidates, even if we are not allowed to field party candidates, in view of the undeclared restrictions on us to reach out to the party cadres and the people,” he said.
He also questioned why the Lt. Governor has not given any appointment to the Congress delegation despite written request over a month ago, which reflects the approach of the present dispensation.

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