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NC Congress & BJP welcome, PDP undecided and separatists to boycott

Reaction to the seven-phased polling for 87 constituencies of J&K assembly has been on the expected lines. Separatists reiterated the boycott call while unionists are divided.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 20, 2008, 02.18 AM IST
SRINAGAR: The reaction to the seven-phased polling for 87 constituencies of J&K assembly has been on the expected lines. Separatists reiterated the boycott call while unionists are divided.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq termed the exercise ���futile��� and said, ���While we were focusing to address the root cause, they (government) are hacking off the leaves to hoodwink the global opinion.��� Yasin Malik of JKLF is launching a boycott campaign. ���To vote or not to vote is purely a democratic right,��� Mr Malik said. ���I hope the Election Commission permits peaceful election boycott campaign.���

With many ifs and buts, the unionists are ready to move around and seek votes saying it is a challenge and an opportunity. NC president Omar Abdullah was happy over the commission making the uncertainty to end.

���We have said to the Election Commission that situation was not feasible but there was no guarantee that if polls are delayed the situation would improve,��� Mr Omar said.

Insisting that ���any form of democracy was better than any unitary rule,��� Mr Omar admits the turnout especially in Kashmir will be ���less than adequate���.

Poll percentage in 2002 assembly polls in Kashmir region was 29.64% compared to 43.7% across the state. Unlike Jammu, where it had a few meetings, the NC is yet to have any public meeting in Kashmir since summer agitation started melting the gains made over years of terror and turmoil.

The BJP is happy that the polls were finally announced. ���The coalition government of the Congress and PDP failed to meet the expectation of the people of state. So we will get the benefit from their failures,��� BJP president Rajnath Singh said.

The BJP, which hopes to cash in on the crisis over the Amarnath shrine land transfer row earlier in the year, described the announcement as a milestone in the democratic history of the country and particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.���We have been demanding polls on time and it has been finally accepted. Now, we are ready to go to the people,��� says Mr Ashok Khajuria, party president in Jammu.

The Panthers Party that has significant influence in Udhampur is also happy. Its only regret is that if the state government would have gone for delimitation of the assembly seats it would have given Jammu a better share. Delimitation was one of the many un-kept promises of the Congress chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who skipped floor test and resigned this summer in wake of the Amarnath land row crisis.

The poll announcement has come as a major breather for PCC chief Saifuddin Soz, who has to step down as Union minister in November as his Rajya Sabha seat is expiring. This would keep him more busy now and offer him enough of time to spend in J&K. ���It is a good decision and we are ready to face the polls,��� he told reporters.

The Congress was initially opposed to the idea of polls but changed its stand after the NC and BJP insisted. Facing a massive crisis, the Congress in J&K is hunting for some ���miracle faces��� for a turnaround.

The PDP that has been fiercely opposed to the idea of timely polls is formally reacting to the announcement after meetings of all its political affairs committee, the dates for which are yet to be discussed. Party leaders contacted offered no comments.
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