A day after she said she would raise the Tricolour only after the J&K state flag was restored, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti came under attack from both the Congress, a co-signatory to the Gupkar declaration, and the BJP.
The state unit of the BJP also filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India, seeking that the PDP be derecognised.
While the Congress on Saturday stayed away from a meeting of Kashmir parties and said her remarks are not in line with the party’s politics, the BJP accused her of “disrespecting” the Tricolour and asserted that the revocation of Article 370 was done constitutionally and that it will not be restored.
On Friday, speaking to reporters at her first press conference since her release after 14 months in detention, Mufti had, while pointing to the flag of the erstwhile state, said, “My flag is in front of me. When this flag is restored to us, we will raise the other flag (Tricolour) also. But until that happens, we will not hold any other flag in our hands. Hamara uss jhande se rishta is jhande ne banaya hai, it is not independent of this flag.”
Calling her comments a “downright denunciation” of the national flag’s sanctity, senior BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told ANI, “To say that we will not hoist the Tricolour until the flag of Jammu and Kashmir is restored… then we want to say that Article 370 will not be restored. It has ended. One country can’t have two symbols and two heads.”
In Jammu, senior BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who heads the party’s Department of Political Affairs in the Union Territory, filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India, saying Mufti had questioned “the basis of the national flag, national symbols, sovereignty of Parliament and dignity of parliamentarians’’ and her party should thus be derecognised.
BJP’s J&K unit president Ravinder Raina accused Mufti of indulging in a “competitive politics of secessionism” by making such “misplaced, misdirected and out-of-sync’’ statements.
“It seems that an unsuccessful chief minister and a failed PDP president is giving vent to her frustration and immature thinking,” he said, adding Article 370 will never be back.
In Srinagar, J&K Pradesh Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir told The Sunday Express that Mufti’s statement does not match the party’s political line. “People from all parts of J&K are upset about the unconstitutional manner in which changes were brought to the character of the former state, but in politics, you have to say that politically.”
The Congress stayed away from the second meeting of the ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ held at Mufti’s Gupkar residence on Saturday.
Mir said the parties had called Saturday’s meeting at short notice and “as a national party, we need to have prior notice and agenda for such a meeting so we can discuss whether we move forward or backward”.
Mir also clarified that the Congress remains a party to the Gupkar Declaration “since we all agree that steps were taken unconstitutionally (on August 4, 2019) and without taking the people of J&K on board”.
At Saturday’s meeting of the Kashmir parties, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah was designated president of the alliance and Mufti as its vice-president. “There is a false propaganda on part of the BJP to portray us as anti-national. I would like to tell them that this alliance is not anti-national, it is, of course, anti-BJP,” said Abdullah.
He also said the BJP “is trying to divide us on religious lines, these attempts will fail. This is not a religious fight but one for our national identity, and we have come together to restore that identity.”
The group adopted the flag of the erstwhile state — three vertical stripes and a plough against a red background — as the official symbol of the alliance. CPI(M)’s M Y Tarigami will be convenor of the alliance while National Conference’s South Kashmir MP Hasnain Masoodi will be its coordinator.
People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone was designated spokesperson. He said that within a month, a white paper will be prepared by the alliance “to dispel misunderstandings and present facts before the whole country”.
The third meeting of the alliance will be held two weeks later in Jammu, following which a convention will be held mid-November, Lone said.
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