The leading parties of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir led by the National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) recently banded together to form the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration pledged to not contest any election till Article 370 is restored in Jammu and Kashmir. As is realising their folly, the separatist parties have now decided to take a U-Turn as the alliance has now decided to fight the upcoming District Development Council’s – the first major electoral process after the abrogation of Article 370.
In a dramatic volte-face, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration consisting of six regional parties has now announced that the alliance will enter the electoral fray for the upcoming District Development Council’s (DDC). It is pertinent to note that the DDC elections are taking place for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
The PDP and NC had decided to boycott the 2018 elections to panchayat and urban local bodies until Centre clarified its position on Article 35-A.
Last year, in a swift move, the Centre had abrogated Article 370 thereby integrating Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India and making the local leaders redundant. After their release from their respective house arrests, the Abdullahs, Mehbooba Mufti and Sajad Lone decided to band together for their common goal of restoring J&K’s special status with Farooq Abdullah going as far as claiming that he hopes Article 370 will be restored with the help of China.
After earlier deciding to not fight the elections, the alliance now claims that they are now contesting the elections to limit the BJP’s inroads in Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier in October, Mufti while showing her true colours as a separatist, announced her decision to not contest any elections until Article 370 is restored. “I have contested elections under our own constitution. How can I contest elections when that constitution has been abolished?” said Mufti.
The spokesperson of the Alliance, Sajad Lone while stating the alliance’s desire to contest the elections, said, “Despite the abruptness of timing and the suddenness to complete everything within one month, we have unanimously decided to contest these elections unitedly. This is the most sacred space in democracy and we will not allow it to be murdered or molested.”
The DDC elections were necessitated after the Modi government cleared the setting of 14 councils in each district last month. It is reported that 280 DDCs have been carved out with the voters directly electing the members for a five-year term.
While the Gupkar alliance comprising of the National Conference (NC), PDP, CPI, CPM, PC, JKPM and ANC are fighting the elections together, the Indian National Congress has decided to go solo to keep “divisive” forces at bay. On the other hand, the BJP is going full throttle buoyed by its convincing victory in the Panchayat elections.