The National Conference said on Wednesday it will not participate in the upcoming local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir until the central government clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution. The party urged the Centre and governor’s administration in the state to take effective steps for the protection of the Article 35A.

The core group of the party made the decision unanimously at a meeting chaired by party chief Farooq Abdullah.

The article, incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954, grants special rights and privileges to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the provision. On August 31, the court adjourned the hearing on them till January 2019 after the Centre and the state administration said hearing the matter now could create law and order problems, particularly during the local body elections.

Asking the Centre to make its stand clear, former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said: “It’s not enough to use panchayat and municipal elections simply to delay proceedings in court.”

Jammu and Kahsmir has been under Governor’s Rule since June. The state is set to hold its first local body elections since 2011 from October 1. Elections to municipal bodies will take place in four phases between October 1 and October 5, and to panchayats in eight phases between November 8 and December 4.