21 Jun 2021 | 04:32am IST
Gupkar alliance will expect restoration of special status to J&K
In a bid to begin the political process since the announcement of the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its spilt into union territories in August 2019, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to chair a meeting with all political parties from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24. The Union government has invited fourteen leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, which includes four former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile State. This will be a first political engagement since the August 5, 2019 move by the Centre to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah along with senior Union ministers will give an audience to the mainstream leadership of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Home Secretary on Saturday evening extended invitations to leaders of Jammu and Kashmir political parties, including the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party and the CPI (M). All these invited leaders have been asked to go for a RT-PCR test before attending the meeting.
The invitation has been extended to leaders of National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah; Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tara Chand and GA Mir; Peoples Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti; Peoples Conference’s Sajad Gani Lone and Muzaffar Hussain Baigh; Apni Party’s Altaf Bukhari; BJP’s Ravinder Raina, Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta; CPI (M)’s MY Tarigami, and National Panthers Party’s Bheem Singh.
Soon after the invitation Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting on Sunday afternoon among her own party leaders. It is well known that she is opposed to the Centre’s move in 2019 and now she is reluctant to be a part of the meeting “unless the Centre spells out its agenda” and “takes concrete initiatives”.
Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) which is an alliance for the restoration of the pre-August-5 position of Jammu and Kashmir will take place on Tuesday where the member parties will discuss the issue and then a final decision will be taken on whether to participate or not in the meeting called by the Prime Minister. The PAGD is an electoral alliance between the several regional political parties in Jammu and Kashmir aimed at restoring special status along with Article 35A of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is the president of the alliance. It is likely to put up a joint front and a common narrative when they meet the Prime Minister.
The fresh impetus by the Union government for meeting has raised hopes not only of early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but also of an eventual restoration of statehood, which was taken away under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, a reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution.
For all this, the delimitation exercise, which is a tedious and highly sensitive process of carving out Parliamentary and Assembly seats, has to be made. This is a huge exercise by itself. The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly has been dissolved since November 2018. As of June 2021, no new election has been scheduled and is unlikely to happen in very near future. In March this year The Delimitation Commission, a panel for redrawing the parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, has got a one-year extension, a move indicating that the Assembly polls in the Union Territory is not likely to be held in near future.
This can be corroborated when former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has a firm view that he does not expect any Assembly elections to be held for time being. “The delimitation commission has been given one more year. Who knows whether after one year it would be given more term? At least we should understand that in 2021 there will be no elections in Jammu and Kashmir,” Omar Abdullah has told media in the recent past.
In a yet another move and before this high-stakes meeting with political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and Prime Minister Modi on June 24, Pakistan has issued a warning on Saturday, calling that it will oppose any move by India to “divide” or change the demography of Kashmir. In an official statement issued by Pakistan’s foreign office, the Pakistani external affairs minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has mentioned that India must refrain from taking any “further illegal steps” in Kashmir after its actions of August 5, 2019. This is a move to ensure that Jammu and Kashmir issue is kept burning in the international forum.
It is also an opportunity for the Gupkar alliance to show their force and strength before the Union government in person as this will be the first political engagement after August 2019.