Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference exits Farooq Abdullah-led Gupkar alliance

Published : Jan 19, 2021 17:55 IST

Sajad Lone (right) at a press conference as Farooq Abdullah (left) looks on, in Srinagar on December 24, 2020.

Sajad Lone (right) at a press conference as Farooq Abdullah (left) looks on, in Srinagar on December 24, 2020.

The Sajad Lone-led Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) has pulled out of the Farooq Abdullah-led People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). This development follows a key internal meeting of the party in Srinagar on Monday to chalk out its future "course of action".

The meeting followed a public articulation of discontent by Sajad Lone's colleagues, such as Imran Reza Ansari and Abdul Ghani Vakil, over stitching electoral agreements with the PAGD in the recently held District Development Council (DDC) Elections.

In a letter to Farooq Abdullah on January 19 Sajad Lone, explaining the party’s decision, said:

“This alliance needed sacrifice. Every party had to sacrifice on the ground in terms of giving space to fellow allies. No party is willing to cede space, no party is willing to sacrifice. We fought against each other in Kashmir province not against the perpetrators of August 5. And those who perpetrated August 5 and their minions are now vocally gleeful.

It is difficult for us to stay on and pretend as if nothing has happened. There has been a breach of trust between partners which we believe is beyond remedy. The majoritarian view in our party is the we should pull out of the alliance in an amicable manner rather than waiting for things to get messier. And I am confirming that we will no longer be a part of the PAGD alliance.

I would, however, want to add that we are divorcing from the alliance not its objectives. We will continue to adhere to the objectives that we set out when this alliance was made. And the PAGD leadership should be assured that we will extend support on all issues which fall within the ambit of stated objectives. We have issued clear instructions to all party leaders not to issue any statements against PAGD alliance or its leaders.”

Informed sources told Frontline that Lone's colleagues felt that continuing with the PAGD was electorally not in the party's larger interests and was hampering efforts to "attract dissenters from other parties".

"Senior leaders converged that the party should invest in rebuilding itself. While in the PAGD, it is next to impossible for us to accommodate politicians from other parties who may be signalling to us to jump ship," said a source close to Lone and present at the meeting. He added that the JKPC was getting feelers from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, particularly those in North Kashmir. "New Delhi is exerting pressure on them", the source said without detailing the parleys that may have taken place between the JKPC and New Delhi's emissaries.

The source voiced the apprehension shared by the JKPC leaders that it would be naive on their part not to chalk out a carefully debated political trajectory at a time the equations between the National Conference (N.C.) and New Delhi "could realign anytime".

A conversation with JKPC insiders gives one the sense that they believe that the N.C. has kept its windows open for New Delhi and that New Delhi, despite the fact that they are currently not game to engage with the N.C., would ultimately do so.

The PAGD leaders, on their part, shared the apprehension that "Sajad could prove to be the weakest link". "New Delhi does not want PAGD to survive, it's a thorn in its eyes and a roadblock in its game plan of reaching out independently to select parties of Kashmir," a senior PAGD leader told Frontline .

The JKPC's internal meeting was seen as resulting from the surfacing of internal rifts within the PAGD which have reduced it to a mere ideological conglomerate and not a grassroots-level alignment capable of or inclined to street mobilisations to achieve restoration of J&K's special status. In the DDC elections, PAGD constituents fielded several proxy candidates against one another.

An informed source in the JKPC told this correspondent: "The N.C. may be attempting to chalk out an understanding with the Centre, but if we exit the PAGD, both the N.C. and the PDP will leave no stone unturned to vilify us,"

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