We will go to people, but polls not solution to Kashmir issue: NC

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Srinagar, Oct 19 (UNI) Describing the ensuing Assembly elections as no solution to the Kashmir issue, the National Conference (NC) today said it will participate in the polls and go before the people and explain to them the reasons for joining the process.

Now, when the Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the seven phase schedule for the general Assembly elections in the state, the NC, as a responsible political party will take part in the democratic process, NC provincial president Mehboob Baigh said here this evening.

He said during the meeting with the ECI at New Delhi last month, a NC delegation, headed by its president Omar Abdullah, had informed that for credible elections, a number of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were needed to be taken before going for polls.

''We had said that situation in the Valley and some areas of Jammu was not conducive for holding early polls in the state,'' Dr Baigh said.

He said, since the ECI has announced the dates for holding the elections, the NC as a responsible political party will not shy away from the challenge.

He, however, made it clear that polls are no solution to the Kashmir issue.

The election is to elect a local government for running the day-to-today administrative affairs of the state, but not a permanent solution to the vexed Kashmir issue, he underlined.

Dr Baigh said the government of India has to talk to the representatives of the people, including those not participating in the poll process to find a durable solution to the Kashmir issue.

He said for the NC, restoring the full autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir as guaranteed under the constitution was the viable solution to the problem.

If there is any other solution acceptable to all, the NC will accept that too, Dr Baigh added.

Asked if he sees the ensuing polls as a challenge between the mainstream parties and separatist organisations, Dr Baigh said ''NO''.

''We will go to the people with our view point why the NC was participating in the polls,'' he said, adding it is upto people to decide.

Asked about the participation of people in the polls, he said nothing can be said at the movement. Only God knows, he said.

''We cannot see how many percent polling would be this time,'' he said and added ''Our duty is to go to people and it is upto them to decide.'' Another senior NC leader and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said it is now the responsibility of the government to ensure conducive atmosphere where people, who wanted to participate, feel secure to exercise their democratic right.

Dr Baigh said besides other issues, unemployment and Kashmir resolution would be the main poll issue for the party.

We have formed a three member committee, comprising Mr Rather and two former Chief secretaries, who joined the NC, to find out short and long term solution to the unemployment problem in the state.

He said there are five lakh unemployed youths in the state which was a main concern for the party.

UNI BAS ATI KN2100

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