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Jammu and kashmir: Congress brass favours participation in first J&K polls after Article 370


New Delhi: The Congress leadership appears to be in favour of its Jammu and Kashmir party unit participating in the just-announced election to the recently-constituted District Development Councils (DDCs), the first electoral exercise since the abrogation of Article 370 in the erstwhile state of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.

It is learnt that some senior Congress leaders and their counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir have held discussions on the announcement of DDC polls in J&K along with the pending panchayat and municipal elections.

The dominant view among the leaders, sources said, was in favour of the party participating in these polls, which acquire special importance in view of the Constitutional and political structural changes J&K underwent since August 2019.

Though the Congress had opposed in Parliament –– despite differences within the party ––the Modi government’s legislations withdrawing the special status to J&K and its division into two UTs, the party now seems keen to “move on” keeping in mind the public mood on the matter nationally.

Of late, the Congress leadership has been stressing that its opposition was to the “procedures” adopted in abrogating Article 370 and in stripping J&K of the statehood.

Many Congress leaders are clear that the party should not get stuck to any “boycott lobby” during the November-December DDC and local body polls and that the Congress, being a national party, has to keep in mind the national perspective unlike the “narrow local outlook” of the NC and PDP which have been making “restoration of Article 370” their new plank.

“Many of us in the party have discussed the announcement of the local body elections in J&K and the issue of the Congress’ participation in the polls. We will make a formal announcement soon about our decision,” Rajni Patil, AICC in-charge of J&K, told ET on Thursday.

The Congress leadership is also mindful of the ‘sentiment’ of the Jammu region where the party’s traditional base has come under strain from the surge of the BJP, which is going to make abrogation of Article 370 a major plank in the local body polls. The Congress is also conscious of the fact that almost all other Opposition national and regional political parties in India (barring PDP, NC and some valley outfits in J&K) have since long stopped harping against the scrapping of Article 370.

The Congress has recently distanced itself from the “Gupkar group of Opposition parties”, especially after estranged BJP ally Mehbooba Mufti took to an extreme position. With assorted “third front parties” in the Valley, whom the Centre has been cultivating, likely to participate in the polls, the Congress leaders feel both NC and PDP too could come under pressure to guard against ‘encroachment’ onto the electoral turf.

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