On Saturday the Apni party led by its founder chief Mohammad Altaf Bukhari held a massive public show at Srinagar’s SKICC.
In the first of its kind show ever since the party was founded in 2020, the party attracted massive crowds from the nooks and cranny of valley.
Following the road show, the party president focussed on few issues though very critical from the political view point. He sought the elections as early as possible and urged the Union Home minister Amit Shah to fulfil his promise to restore the statehood to Union Territory as promised on the floor of house. Similarly, he also vowed to fight a legal battle in the apex court for the return of Article 370 removed by Union Government unilaterally on August 5, 2019.
In addition of that Bukhari was quite angry over the contracts and other projects being outsourced by LG administration and said if he is in position to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir, he will strictly prioritize the UT’s assets for the local populace.
Earlier a day before, Ghulam Nabi Azad, chief of Democratic Azad front also insisted Government of India to hold the elections in Jammu and Kashmir and provide the democratic elected government to the local people. PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti too had a kind of similar views and accused BJP of sabotaging elections by holding back Election Commission of India from taking the initiative.
On the other side the centre and top BJP leaders have dropped enough hints that the elections in the UT will be held very soon.
Now it has been four years when J&K is without any local government and top bureaucrats are running the day-to-day affairs of the UT that is considered one of the most sensitive places in the country. After abrogation of Article 370, when the J&K was bifurcated into two UT’s, three years have passed without public government though Union Ministers boost of giving rights to people at the grassroot level by empowering panchayats. Even Home Minister, Amit Shah during his two recent rallies in J&K said that after abrogation of 370, the power was taken from three families – Abdullah’s, Muftis and Congress – -and given to thousands of PRI’s who are now panches, sarpanches, Block Development Council and District Development Council members.
Home Minister Shah even said that as the delimitation exercise has been completed the first elections post abrogation of Article 370 in J&K will be now held. Even BJP cadres and its leaders are already working on a party plan to emerge as the single largest party that could rule J&K.
The other mainstream political parties are also working on a plan to emerge successful in the polls. Officials who are privy to the information said that the polls could be held only next year.
National Conference last week released names of constituency incharges for 47 seats of Kashmir Valley, a hint these leaders could be potential National Conference candidates in the first elections in UT.
The orders of the Delimitation Commission, a panel set up to redraw the assembly constituencies of J&K, came into effect from May 20 this year, according to a gazette notification issued by the Union government. The commission had issued its final order on May 5, earmarking 43 seats to the Hindu-majority Jammu region and 47 to Muslim-majority Kashmir — making up a total of 90 seats for the Union territory’s assembly, up from the current strength of 83. Home Minister Amit Shah during his recent J&K visit said elections will be held as the delimitation process has been completed.
The 47 names announced by the party include former ministers and legislators who have contested and won several elections on the NC tickets when J&K was a state.
After formation of the PAGD, a five-party alliance soon after abrogation of Article 370 many leaders have been insisting on the leadership of alliance partners that they should contest assembly polls jointly.
Even PAGD, head Farooq Abdullah who is president of NC earlier had dropped hints that PAGD partners should contest polls jointly whenever elections are held in the UT. Many however, term this as an end of the PAGD. On the social media, many users termed this as an end to the alliance. “The day the alliance was formed; many people had predicted that it wouldn’t last long. First, PC left and now it seems NC doesn’t want to be part of this alliance, once elections are declared,” said Javeed Ahmad, a social media expert. “After NC declared its list, many people have made similar predictions that alliance is only on papers.”
NC president Farooq Abdullah said the names were announced to bridge the gap between people and the leadership. “These people will go to their areas to speak to people and will try to make the party strong,” he said adding that elections have not been announced so far “We could contest jointly but only decisions will be taken when elections are declared in J&K and leadership will sit and take a decision.”
NC president Farooq Abdullah also made it clear that his son and vice president, Omar Abdullah wont contest upcoming polls. “Till J&K is UT, Omar wont contest elections, he has made it clear himself.”
NC leaders, however, say that these are the leaders who will be the party candidates. “Though slight changes can’t be ruled out once election dates are out,” he said, adding that these leaders have already started meeting workers and people of their areas.
In August the National Conference (NC) gave first clear indication that it will contest all the 90 assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir on its own, signalling it could part ways with the other constituents of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).
At the meeting of the provincial committee of NC, chaired by its vice-president Omar Abdullah, unanimously passed a resolution declaring the party “should prepare and fight all the 90 seats”, a party statement had said. The meeting was attended by all senior leaders of the NC then.
The decision was contrary to the earlier statements made by party president Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah that the five-party PAGD should contest the upcoming assembly elections jointly like the district development council polls in 2020.
Besides the NC, the PAGD, which was formed on August 4, 2019, comprises former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Awami National Conference and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Peoples Conference, which was also part of the alliance, left the PAGD soon after the 2020 DDC polls.
In the 2020 district development council elections, PAGD contested and won 110 seats out of 280 with the NC winning 67 seats alone.
PAGD hasn’t said anything about this new development, however, PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti dropped a hint that they have formed the alliance for elections but the greater cause. “We will contest elections but our fight is for greater cause,” Mufti told her workers at the party office.
Many people term this as chinks in the PAGD which could have been biggest threat to other parties. And for BJP leadership this could be a breather as they want to form the next government with the help of their allies in J&K.