Updated: August 22, 2021 7:01:34 am
A day after the National Conference and PDP participated in a meeting of opposition parties in New Delhi, Sajad Lone, a former member of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), questioned their silence on Article 370.
“The revocation of J&K’s special status as defined under Article 370, can only be reversed in the Parliament. The way Indian polity is scripted at the moment is that on one hand, there is the BJP, which has abrogated Article 370 and is vociferous that they won’t give it back. The only hope that we possibly had was that at a future date, the opposition would come to power and correct this in Parliament,” Lone told The Sunday Express.
Stating that if the opposition while being in opposition is so “shy and reticent” of discussing 370, recusing itself from the discourse around special status, Lone said, “This basically means that the opposition is endorsing what the current government has done in the Parliament.”
Attacking the leadership of both parties, the People’s Conference chief said, “When NC and PDP, my former allies in the PAGD, sit with them and selectively accept the draft of a resolution where they are talking only about statehood, this by default means they are against changing the new normal. The BJP and the opposition stand on Article 370 is indistinguishable.”
Meanwhile, the NC in a statement denounced Lone’s comment on the opposition meeting as “unfounded and out of sync with reality”.
At a virtual meeting of 19 Opposition parties, including Congress, on Friday, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi said all parties have some “compulsions” but it was time to rise above them. The meeting was also attended by TMC president Mamata Banerjee, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, and NC and PAGD president Dr Farooq Abdullah.
Emphasising that since August 5, 2019, this is the first and unambiguous indication of the preferences of the opposition parties, Lone said that while BJP expresses its opposition to Article 370 by speaking about it, the opposition expresses its opposition by not speaking about it. “There is a big white elephant in the room and opposition can’t see it.”
He also pointed out that what happened on August 5 cannot be unbundled and discussed by taking up one issue before a general election and one after, in terms of statehood and special status. “We don’t accept the new normal. The National parties have and the NC and PDP will have to explain their acceptance of this new normal.”
During his recent visit to J&K, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had spoken of the need to conduct free and fair elections in J&K and restoration of the political process. “Well I hope they aren’t as free and fair as 1987 and 1996,” Lone said.
The People’s Conference is a signatory to the Gupkar Declaration of August 4, 2019, based on which the mainstream coalition PAGD was formed. His party pulled out of the alliance after the DDC elections in J&K citing fielding of proxy candidates by members of the alliance contesting elections together.