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Fissures in PAGD as NC expresses dismay over comments by some alliance partners

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Party indicates it will contest all 90 Assembly seats solo when polls are held in J&K

Srinagar: Virtually signalling an end to the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, the National Conference on Wednesday indicated that it will contest all the 90 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on its own and not in alliance with other members of the five-party alliance.

In a major political development, the Kashmir provincial committee of the party unanimously passed a resolution resolving that the National Conference (NC) “should prepare and fight all the 90 seats”.

Party vice-president Omar Abdullah, general secretary Ali Mohammed Sagar and virtually the entire leadership from the Kashmir region attended the meeting at the NC headquarters after which the resolution was passed.

Besides the NC, the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which was formed on August 04, 2019, comprises the Peoples Democratic Party, CPI-M, Awami National Conference and CPI.

The grouping, which initially had Peoples Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone also as a constituent, had contested the District Development Council polls together, and won 110 seats out of 280, with the NC winning 67 on its own.

A party statement said the participants “expressed dismay over the recent statements, audio jingles and speeches made by some of the constituents of the PAGD targeting JKNC”.

The statement did not elaborate but participants are understood to have referred to some recent statements by the leadership of the PDP which is headed by former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who has been critical of the NC of late.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Omar, who is the former chief minister of the erstwhile state, said that “to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s identity” it is imperative for the people to register as voters. He said the underlying principles guiding the party’s future course of action will be in line with NC’s basic stand and policies.

Denouncing the “unfair” treatment meted out to the NC in the PAGD, the participants at the meeting felt that it does not contribute to the overall unity of the amalgam and demanded immediate course correction from the alliance’s constituents.

Omar assured the participants that their concerns and the interests of the people and the party will be safeguarded and added that he will discuss the feedback from the meeting with the party president Farooq Abdullah.

During the hour-long meeting, “there were threadbare discussions on the mounting apprehensions among the public with regards to the inclusion of 25 lakh new voters as claimed by the state CEO last week,” party sources said.

Alluding to the inclusion of 25 lakh new voters in Jammu and Kashmir, Omar said the entire matter begs clarity from the Election Commission of India (ECI).

“All this has triggered fears of demographic flooding and political disempowerment within the public. We are yet to ascertain if the final electoral rolls are also to include those ordinarily residing voters.

“Our concerns with regards to requirements for outsiders to get registered continue to remain unmet. The clarity provided by government quarters has failed to address our core concerns on the issue,” he said.

Omar said the people of Jammu and Kashmir are best equipped to defeat these nefarious designs by voting in huge numbers in the forthcoming elections, whenever it’s held.

“The remedy lies with our people, who if they choose to vote in huge numbers can thwart these attempts aimed at disempowering the people of J&K. Therefore, people have to make it a point to come out and vote in huge numbers,” he added.

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