NC To Go For Party Polls After 8 Years

NC To Go For Party Polls After 8 Years

1 August 2013
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: After eight years, National Conference (NC) has finally decided to go for party polls following fresh warning by the Election Commission of India about meeting the deadline for organizational elections. ECI snub has prompted NC General Secretary Sheikh Nazir to issue notification announcing party polls in a phased-manner from August 17 that would culminate with the election of party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) on October 3. The election notification issued by NC General Secretary reads that ECI has been reminding the party about holding elections that were due in 2008. “The party was given two reminders by ECI in January and March this year as well. It is therefore directed that the party should complete its membership drive by July 31 and gear-up for the polls,” the notification reads. It further states that the president of the party would be elected on September 29 and CWC would be constituted on October 3. “Provincial committees would be elected from September 23 to September 25. District committees would be elected from September 15 to September 22. Block level committees would be elected from September 4 to September 14,” the notification reads. “The election of delegations and Halqa committees would be held from August 25 to September 3 and basic committees would be elected from August 17 to August 24.” The NC General Secretary has asked the party cadre to close the membership drive for year 2013 by July 31. The party would go to polls after eight years as last elections were held in 2005. “We couldn’t hold polls due to the fact that government was formed in 2008. After that, three summer unrests couldn’t allow us to go for polls. After 2010, NC, especially Chief Minister Omar Abdullah worked hard to bring peace in the State, so polls got delayed,” said NC Additional General Secretary, Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal. On whether NC would afford to have a non-Abdullah party chief, Kamaal said people and the NC cadres won’t accept a non-Abdullah party leader. “Abdullahs and NC are the two faces of same coin,” he said. He, however, termed the party polls a significant step towards eliminating lobbyism, fissures and multiple-leadership at district level. “I am sure one leadership will unite the entire party. The party elections will help streamline entire organizational structure,” he said. Pertinently, in April 2012, the NC president Farooq Abdullah had nominated his son and Chief Minister as the party’s working president. He had also nominated his younger brother, Kamaal, as the party’s additional general secretary and retained the post of General Secretary with Sheikh Nazir. In January this year, Omar in the capacity of NC working president, announced major structural changes in the party by nominating Devender Singh Rana as party’s provincial president for Jammu region and Nasir Aslam Wani as provincial president for Kashmir. Omar also made other changes in the party set up. Interestingly, the failure to hold party elections in due time had led to internal bickering in NC. The party constitution calls for holding elections after every three years for all crucial posts including that of president, vice president and general secretary. Last party elections were held in November-December 2005 that saw the selection of Farooq Abdullah as party president and the re-election of Sheikh Nazir as General Secretary. Ahad Khan, a prominent NC worker from South Kashmir, said delay in the party elections has triggered “groupism” within the party cadre. “I fail to understand why the party high command hasn’t been able to hold polls so far. Anyways, it is better late than never,” he said. Khan said at least five candidates are lobbying for a single post of district and block presidents. A senior NC leader, wishing anonymity, said the term of elections ended in December 2008. “I admit there is a delay of more than five years, which is against the party constitution that calls for holding party elections after every three years,” he said. He said the party has 22 district presidents, 82 block presidents and hundreds of halqa presidents. NC insiders said many senior NC leaders are also eyeing the key post of General Secretary, currently held by Sheikh Nazir, who is not keeping a good health for the last many years. “To be a General Secretary of a party that is decades old is more dignified post than a Minister or MP,” said one of the NC MPs, on the condition of anonymity.