The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday said the parties boycotting the local body elections in the state should be derecognised and their symbols withdrawn, PTI reported. The state is set to hold its first local body elections since 2011, but the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bahujan Samaj Party have said they will not participate.

These parties are state- or national-level parties with reserved election symbols, and must participate in all elections under the Representation of People Act, 1951, the BJP’s state spokesperson Anil Gupta said. He urged the state’s chief electoral officer to derecognise them and take up the matter with the Election Commission.

“Elections are the core of the democratic process and afford people an opportunity to express their will,” he said. “By boycotting the elections, these political parties have not only betrayed the people of the state but also disrespected the Constitution which they had pledged to safeguard while applying for recognition of their respective political parties. Suppression of the democratic process by these parties also amounts to gross violation of human rights.”

Elections to municipal bodies will be held in four phases between October 8 and October 16, and the panchayat elections will be held in nine phases between November 17 and December 11.

The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have said they will boycott the polls over concerns about the Centre’s stand on Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges to the residents of the state. The CPI(M) and the Bahujan Samaj Party have criticised the Centre for going ahead with the elections even though the two main parties in the state have opposed them.

On Friday, BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav had said that activists of the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party were trying to derail the local body elections just like militants.