Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to meet leaders of Jammu and Kashmir-based political parties next week

Published : June 19, 2021 12:47 IST

Mehbooba Mufti (third from left), Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami (to her left), Farooq Abdullah (second from right) and other members of the PAGD after a meeting in Srinagar on June 9. Photo: S. Irfan/PTI

 

A meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of Jammu and Kashmir-based political parties is on the cards and it could be held any day next week, according to reliable sources.

The meeting assumes significance as there was virtually no engagement between New Delhi and the political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir, downgraded to a Union Territory on August 5, 2019 when its special status was scrapped and its leaders detained.

The first-ever democratic exercise in the U.T. after the abrogation of Article 370 was in November 2020, when the District Development Council (DDC) elections were held. However, as the State went to the hustings, there was an evident rancour between members of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), or the Gupkar allies, and New Delhi, with Home Minister Amit Shah referring to the coalition as the “Gupkar Gang”.

The PAGD was an amalgam of six parties that included the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the People’s Conference, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Awami National Conference and the People’s Movement. The PAGD has pledged to fight for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference exited the alliance in January, presumably under pressure from New Delhi.

According to sources, the government is keen to restart the democratic process, including holding elections to the Assembly. It is expected that the political leadership would press for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir before consenting to participate in the elections.

The parties have agreed informally to come to Delhi and meet Prime Minister Modi next week.

There is speculation that following Government of India’s overture, the parties in the State might agree to participate in the Delimitation Commission proceedings. The commission was set up in March 2020 to redraw the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir before the next Assembly elections are held.

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