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Kashmir parties work to give alliance formal shape, Farooq could be head

The alliance will likely have an executive council consisting of the chairperson, a vice-chairperson, general secretaries, a chief coordinator, a chief spokesperson, spokespersons from individual parties, and an office-bearer from each party.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Srinagar | Updated: October 23, 2020 9:49:30 am
Farooq Abdullah, j&k ddc polls, ddc polls, ddc elections, jammu and kashmir ddc elections, gupkar alliance, bjp, jammu and kashmir newsFile photo: Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah at an all-party meeting on October 15. (File/ANI)

Leaders of the seven-party People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration in Jammu and Kashmir are working to give the group a formal structure ahead of their “constitutional battle” for restoring to people “the rights they had before 5th of August 2019”.

The alliance will likely have an executive council consisting of the chairperson, a vice-chairperson, general secretaries, a chief coordinator, a chief spokesperson, spokespersons from individual parties, and an office-bearer from each party.

Several sources told The Indian Express that there is broad consensus that National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah, the most senior leader in Jammu and Kashmir, should head the alliance structure, and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone should have important roles. NC vice-president Omar Abdullah will likely be part of the core group of the alliance.

At the first meeting of the alliance on October 15, leaders of the NC, PDP, People’s Conference, CPI(M), and Awami National Conference reiterated their commitment to the Gupkar Declaration of August 4, 2019, and discussed giving their grouping formal shape. The Congress and CPI were not present, but have extended their support to the alliance.

Explained

A first step; challenges lie ahead

The move towards putting in place a formal structure in the People's Alliance of regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir marks a step towards building a platform to mount a political challenge against the constitutional changes of August 5, 2019. However the biggest challenge before the political parties in the new alliance would be to reach a consensus on their joint strategy. The two biggest parties in the alliance had always been political rivals in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting was attended by Farooq and Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone, MY Tarigami of CPI(M), and Muzaffar Shah of the ANC among other mainstream leaders. The meeting resolved to seek the restoration of the special status of J&K as it existed before the constitutional changes of August 5 last year took effect, and the erstwhile state was split into two Union Territories.

A charter that will serve as a vision document for the alliance is also in the making, for which all parties have been asked to submit their inputs.

“The previous meetings where different parties came together were in the absence of Mehbooba ji, so as soon as her detention was revoked (late on October 13 evening), we all came together. However, what shape the alliance takes will be deliberated in the next meeting,” the NC MP from Anantnag, Hasnain Masoodi, told The Indian Express.

The CPI(M)’s Tarigami said “discussion are taking place and details of how the alliance fights the constitutional changes of August 5 will be thrashed out in the next meeting”.

The alliance will likely have a common headquarters for its office-bearers. On August 4 last year, the signatories to the Gupkar Declaration – so named because they met at the residence of Farooq Abdullah at Gupkar Road in Srinagar – had vowed to “defend identity, autonomy and special status” of J&K.

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