PAGD has finally smelt the POWER!

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Fighting over DDC seats…

BY: Shafqat Shafi

August 05, 2019, government of India scrapped Article 370 and 35 A of Indian constitution that guaranteed special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and provided certain guarantees to the State Subjects regarding possession of land. The GoI didn’t stop there. It divided the State into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, J&K with Assembly and Ladakh without Assembly.

The decision was followed by an eerie silence on the ground as most of the political leaders in Kashmir were detained. However, in Jammu and Leh there was some fire cracking. Everybody thought – politics is over in Kashmir and wondered who is going to fill this hell like vacuum.

And then Syed Altaf Bukhari, who served as Education and Finance minister in Mehbooba led PDP-BJP coalition floated his own party – Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party.

Hey, politics is back! Exclaimed some. But still there existed the vacuum. Bukhari himself have had a baggage of Hawala connections from 1990’s and those who joined him have had a history of changing parties like under wears.

And then suddenly some, sort of, respected political parties, following the release of their leaders, came together announcing Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). The parties included JKNC, JKPDP, JKPC, CPI(M), JKANC, JKPM, CPI and Congress (which formally joined the alliance only two days back).

The same parties had met on August 04, 2019 at Dr Farooq Abdullah’s Gupkar residence and vowed to defend Article 370.

They couldn’t.

There was something fundamentally wrong with the name – Gupkar. In Kashmir, Gupkar is referred to power pre and post 1947.

Pre 1947, you had Taleh Manzil, the residential house of then Maharaja Hari Singh on Gupkar besides his office (now Lalit). Post 1947, it continued to remain the power centre.

It is the elitist location in Kashmir and therefore by enacting Gupkar to their Alliance, these political leaders shunt the people of congested, ill developed, faulty drainage, pathetic water and power supply areas OUT.

That is one thing which troubles people. However, the important issue is that following their release, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are on record to have said that they will not be part of any electoral politics unless Statehood is restored and August 05, 2019 decisions reversed.

And suddenly, they pull their socks, roll their sleeves and jump into DDC elections without tendering any explanation to their electorate.

If Omar Abdullah is not ready to contest Assembly election unless J&K’s statehood is restored, why should his party cadres contest DDC elections?

If Mehbooba Mufti is not ready to contest Assembly elections unless the decisions made by GoI on August 05, 2019 are reversed, why should she be keen to file her party candidates for DDC elections?

Questions are raised – Is it the allure of financial powers of DDCs that has diluted the grand standing of both Omar and Mehbooba.

It goes without saying that the very existence of PAGD is unnatural. PDP founder and former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed launched his political carrier as a young staunch opponent of NC’s Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. So did Abdul Gani Lone of Peoples Conference.

Though CPI(M) was friendly towards Abdullah’s Naya Kashmir (a socialist slogan), post 1975, the communists too distanced from him.

In this backdrop, PAGD was and is an unnatural alliance.

It is an attempt to rest power by traditional power holders – NC – and that is what is being witnessed as the Alliance partners fight over distribution of DDC tickets.

NC wants the lion’s share. It managed to get more than 70 per cent DDC seats that are going to polls in first phase. About second phase, NC is again adamant that it have the cake and eat it too.

Unnatural alliances end naturally. That is what the fate of PAGD looks like. One, the two prominent leaders of the Alliance – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti had, sort of, rejected electoral politics. Two, they suddenly came out and decided to be part of DDC electoral politics. Three, NC thought, it is time to bulldoze PDP and PC.

The bulldozing mission was triggered by the very thought that both PDP and PC were partners with BJP ahead of abrogation of Article 370. NC wanted to exploit the ‘guilty feeling’ of these two regional parties for joining hands with BJP. However, NC indulged into deliberate forgetfulness about its own Vice President, Omar Abdullah, being a powerful minister in BJP government at the Centre.

Kashmir is referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’ but sadly the politicians here have turned it into inferno and the two major political parties can’t escape the blame.

Emergence of a political alliance was a good sign. It had given some hope to the people. But the way things are shaping up, it is becoming clear that no one is giving a fig to broader issues but concentrating on immediate political gains in DDC elections. Sad!

As far as seat sharing is concerned, insiders say that the parties are fighting over every seat. However, it remain to be seen that how the sworn enemies with wide ideological cleavages will help transfer votes to other parties on ground.

It was expected that the seat sharing list of all the phases would come out before the first phase in a grand gesture of coming together. This didn’t happen. Insiders say that in every meeting, there are clashes and someone or the other from the parties, barring NC, is seen walking out of the list finalizing meetings.

Kashmiris are confused as at the end of the day it’s like voting for the same parties which took them on a ride and half of the voters won’t even know which candidates to trust.

The bickering within the alliance indicate that some politicians have smelt the POWER and would go to any extent to have their say in DDC elections. The smell of POWER is so enticing that they have dumped their GRAND TALK of pre August, 2019 status of J&K.

Sad Again!

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