Jammu and Kashmir National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu resigned from the party on Tuesday, citing disagreement over the party’s decision to boycott the local body and panchayat polls in the state. The panchayat elections will be held in nine phases between November 17 and December 11, while elections to municipal bodies will be held in four phases between October 8 and October 16.

“Based on my humble disagreement with the party’s decision to boycott the upcoming urban local body and panchayat polls, I have sent my resignation from the party to the general secretary,” Mattu tweeted. “I strongly believe that leaving our grassroots democratic institutions open to misrepresentation would inflict serious harm on the state and also wreak havoc with our social fabric and cultural legacy.”

Mattu said that he will announce his candidature for the urban local body elections from Srinagar on Wednesday, but did not clarify whether he would do so as an independent or for another political party. “I won’t be addressing the media or taking any questions today,” he added.

On September 5, the National Conference announced that it will not participate in the elections until the central government clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution. 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.

The Peoples Democratic Party has also boycotted the elections, urging the central government to reconsider its decision to conduct them. Nitish Mahajan, a zonal president of the party, resigned last week in protest against the boycott.