PM’s invite gets PAGD into huddle

PDP to take call after Alliance meeting
NC starts intra-party discussion
Cong raises pitch for statehood restoration

Srinagar, June 20: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Sunday said they would take the final call on whether to attend an all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled for June 24 in New Delhi only after meeting members of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on June 22.

Talking with reporters, PDP chief spokesman Suhail Bukhari said after a threadbare discussion through a virtual meeting today, all the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) members also mandated party chief Mehbooba Mufti to take a final call on an all-party meeting with the Prime Minister.

The Government of India (GoI) has invited all regional parties from Jammu and Kashmir for a meeting on June 24 in New Delhi.  The meeting is likely to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence.

The National Conference (NC) also held intra-party deliberation on Sunday to decide about the future course of action regarding its participation in an all party meeting with the Prime Minister.

NC president Farooq Abdullah met several senior party leaders today.

“The party president has called many senior party leaders today and the deliberation will continue till Monday afternoon,” NC senior leader and president Kashmir province Nasir Aslam Wani said. 

“The party will come out with an official statement on Monday only.” 

As many as 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including four former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti – of the erstwhile state are among the invitees.

This will be the prime minister’s first interaction with all the political parties of Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, 2019 when the central government did away with the state’s special status and bifurcated it into UTs. The erstwhile state has been under the Centre’s rule since June 2018.

In Delhi, the Congress said the Centre should accept the demand for restoration of statehood to JK in the interest of the Constitution and democracy.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, did not say whether the party will participate in the June 24 meeting or not.

Surjewala drew attention to the August 6, 2019 resolution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) where the party clearly demanded the restoration of full statehood for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We believe that undoing it is a direct attack on democracy and the constitutional principles,” he told reporters when asked about the issue.

Surjewala said the Congress believes that grant of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir as also holding elections, so that people can elect their representatives and have an assembly of their own to carry on the affairs of the state instead of a rule by Delhi, is the only way forward to guarantee full restoration of democratic rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is now for the prime minister and the BJP to decide whether to hold a meeting or to accept the demand of the Indian National Congress in the interest of constitution, democracy and the people to restore full statehood to the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Surjewala said. (With PTI inputs.) 

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