Editor's note: With Jammu and Kashmir under Governor's Rule for the eighth time, Firstpost will run a series of reported pieces, analytical articles and commentary to track the progress of events.
Srinagar: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has claimed conditions are not conducive for holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir and the Assembly should continue to remain in suspended animation.
Even as the National Conference (NC) sought dissolution of the Assembly, which will make it incumbent on Governor NN Vohra to hold elections within six months, PDP's senior leaders believe that early polls could hit the party's prospects.
The party is also jittery due to dissension within its ranks and widespread resentment against it across Kashmir, particularly in south Kashmir, where many civilians have been killed during pro-freedom protests after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzafar Wani in 2016.
Senior PDP leader and former minister Dilawar Mir, who had a meeting with Vohra on behalf of the party recently said, “The government had to cancel elections in the Anantang parliamentary seat as condition were not conducive in the state. This is not the time to hold the elections.”
Mir said that by keeping the Assembly under suspended animation "a link between the MLAs and the public stays intact. At least MLAs can do the work of the people."
While keeping the Assembly under suspended animation, MLAs would continue to draw salaries and deputy commissioners of different districts have sought an opinion from the state’s law department on whether they could allow MLAs to spend from their constituency development funds (CDFs).
Officials of the law department said only the legislative powers of the MLAs remain under suspension and they can continue to spend the money under the CDF.
The PDP is reluctant to go for early elections because in most of the south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Anantang and Shopian (from where its MLAs were elected), there is strong resentment against the party for “the excesses which were committed by forces in tackling the pro-freedom protests.”
In some areas like Noorabad, where PDP MLA Abdul Majeed Padder defeated NC's Sakina Itoo, protesters burnt the police station and looted weapons during the protests after the death of Wani. In Pulwama, protests continued for months and PDP leaders were unable to visit their constituencies.
PDP is also facing dissension after it sacked former finance minister and Rajpora MLA Haseeb Drabu. The MLA was shown the door after he remarked that Kashmir was "not a political issue". The party also dropped Abdul Haq Khan from the council of ministers, while then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti inducted her brother Tasaduq Mufti as tourism minister.
A PDP leader also said that the party was keeping a watch over the developments unfolding in Kashmir after the withdrawal of support by BJP. He said that after the demise of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Mehbooba showed reluctance to form the government with BJP, but in view of the reports that Amira Kadal MLA Altaf Bukhari was trying to cut a deal with the BJP to form the government, she couldn’t delay government formation.
PDP's Pampore MLA Zahoor Ahmad Mir said "MLAs can work for the general public even when the Assembly remains under suspended animation. The people would have at least a forum where they can air their grievances.”
The NC hopes to benefit from the anti-incumbency factor against the PDP-BJP alliance through early elections. Governor’s additional secretary Danater Singh said, "It was the prerogative of the governor to keep the Assembly either under suspended animation or to dissolve it.”
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Updated Date: Jun 26, 2018 18:10 PM