Won’t contest Assembly elections till Article 370 is restored, says Mehbooba Mufti

SRINAGAR — People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that she will not contest Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir till Article 370 is restored.

She said that it might a foolish decision, but the issue is an emotional one for her.

I am never going to participate in Assembly elections as long as Article 370 is not restored. Whenever I took oath as a member of the Assembly, it was under two Constitutions — the J&K Constitution and the Constitution of India, with two flags at the same time. Maybe it is foolish on my part, but, it is a more of an emotional issue for me, the Former Chief Minister said in an interview to PTI.

The Jammu and Kashmir had separate Constitution and Flag under its special status under Article 370 which was abrogated by the BJP-led Central Government on August 5, 2019. The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was also divided into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Mehbooba said that she was not sure whether she would contest Parliamentary elections or not. Parliament (elections), I do not know, she said.

She said that it was too early to say whether parties in the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) would contest the Assembly elections as an alliance. We have never really discussed whether we are going to contest elections together or separately. Unless and until we sit together… only then we can talk about it, she said.

People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) an alliance of various political parties in Jammu and Kashmir was formed in October 2020, seeking the restoration of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

If panchayat polls are the real test of democracy, why does the country have the posts of Prime Minister and Home Minister, Mehbooba asked on Central Government’s claims of restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.

They are talking about panchayat elections. This is not the first time that these elections have been held. They have been conducted from the time of (National Conference founder) Sheikh Mohammad abdullah. If panchayat is the real test of democracy, what is prime minister and home minister doing? Panchayat cannot be a substitute to the Assembly, she said.

The Centre is scared that if there is an elected government, then it will not be able to pursue its hidden agenda, Mehbooba said when asked about Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir are not being conducted.

What are they scared of, I do not know. The firmans (orders) that they are issuing every week which further dispossesses and disempowers the people of J&K, they want to continue with that, she said.

They are scared that if there is an elected government, then they will not be able to pursue their hidden agenda, which is no more hidden. They may not be able to do what they are doing at this point of time, she said.

Mehbooba alleged that their plan of action is such that they want to dispossess the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bring them to their knees. That’s why they do not want to have an Assembly which they feel might be empowered and may not follow their diktats, she said.

Referring to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba said it is not possible for the Centre to continue with an iron-fist approach.

It is not possible. They are all draconian measures. You have created a pressure cooker-like situation. Now, they are scared that if they lift the thumb, everything may just come out of it, it may blow into their face. That is why they creating more pressure each passing day, she said.

They are bringing more laws, arresting more people, they don’t want opposition, they don’t want any kind of dissent, and they don’t want to give any space to voice of dissent. They want everything to look goody-goody, Mehbooba said.