The Peoples Democratic Party on Monday announced that it will not contest local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir, and urged the central government to reconsider conducting the polls.

The decision came days after the National Conference said 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.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor’s Rule since June.

The Mehbooba Mufti-led People Democratic Party said it was concerned that “the situation created by linking local bodies’ elections with the case pending in the Supreme Court about Article 35A has created serious apprehensions in the minds of people who genuinely see an assault on the special constitutional position of the state”.

It said: “The party feels that while special position of the state is a matter of survival for its people and society, democratic system is its sustenance. It was felt that any attempt to impose any electoral exercise in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension would seriously erode the credibility of the process and institutions. It would defeat the very purpose of it.”

The party called on the government to work on confidence building measures to assure the “inviolability of the constitutional guarantees” that make it a special part of India.

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.

Article 35A case

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