Jammu/Srinagar (IANS) With its decision to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress party has placed itself in an unenviable position of being on the right side of the separatists.
For over 30 years since the ongoing separatists violence started in the state, the separatists have been asking people and the political parties to boycott what they call "the Indian electoral process".
Ironically, the Congress party that fought for the country's independence and anchored itself firmly for over 65 years through the length and breadth of India is now seen to shift its political track.
"Since its establishment the Congress has been seen as the only political party that had roots and support from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
"As fate would have it, the party now decides to boycott election in J&K," said Ali Muhammad, 75, who is still called 'Ali Congressi' in his native village in North Kashmir.
G.A. Mir, President of the state Congress has said that the party cannot fight the BDC election as its leaders belonging to the valley are still under detention.
Mir also said that his party's requests for providing security to move around by its leaders, have been turned down by the state authorities.
"They have done nothing to facilitate or make our participation in the BDC election possible.
"We have no alternative, but to stay away from these elections," Mir told the media in Jammu.
Mir and other leaders of all mainstream political parties detained in Jammu were set free by the authorities a week back. Authorities have also denied Mir's claim that the leaders of his party were under detention in the valley.
"Congress is playing the typical wolf and lamb politics.
"After losing its ground in state's politics, the party leadership has decided to stay away from the BDC elections in which their defeat is a foregone conclusion," said a senior BJP leader.
Whatever the compulsion of the Congress leaders to stay away from the BDC polls, there is no denying the fact that the decision to stay away from a democratic process like the election has come as a shot in the separatist arm.
"The decision to stay away from the BDC polls by the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is understandable because the two are regional political parties with most of their base present in the valley.
"The NC and the PDP have chosen the politics of soft separatism to remain in circuit. But, the Congress' decision to follow them is most baffling," said Noor Muhammad, 66, a retired bank official.
However hard the Congress and its leaders might try to justify their stand to stay away from the BDC polls, the fact remains that the party has landed itself in a position that helps only the separatists' cause in Kashmir and pushes the party further away from the Centrist sentiment in India.