After initial hiccups, the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Sunday reached a consensus over the seat-sharing arrangement for the second phase of the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir and said that there is no rift among the alliance partners.
PAGD members on Saturday had failed to finalise the seat-sharing formula for the DDC polls despite holding a marathon meeting, regarding the issue. However, the alliance partners continued the consultations on Sunday at the residence of National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah, who is also the chairman of the PAGD. Now, the alliance claims that a consensus has been reached over seat-sharing.
The PAGD is an alliance of several political parties, seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status abrogated by the Centre in August last year.
According to sources, the meeting on Sunday, which was chaired by Farooq Abdullah, was attended by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir, Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone, CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami, Awami National Conference senior vice-president Muzaffar Shah and Peoples Movement president Javaid Mustafa Mir, among others.
Consultations over seat-sharing arrangements for the rest of the phases of the eight-phased election will continue, a PAGD leader said. “We are focusing on one phase at a time. The consultations between the parties are being held in a detailed and cordial manner. Such exercises take time, but there is a consensus on how to go about it,” the leader, who did not wish to be identified, said. He also said that the seat-sharing list was likely to be shared by the alliance with the media in a day or two.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters outside Farooq Abdullah's residence after the meeting, JKPCC president G A Mir said there was no rift among the alliance partners as everyone understands that this is part of a larger fight for the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is nothing like that (rift). Even if you give 100 per cent share to a political party, there still will be some lacunae,” Mir said. He said the parties were contesting the polls as an alliance and that Sunday's meeting was held to fine-tune the seat-sharing arrangement.
“Everyone has seen this through maturely and we are aware that there is a bigger fight ahead and even if some candidate is not accommodated or some party has lesser seats, it does not matter,” the JKPCC president said. He said when the elections to the DDC were announced, the like-minded parties decided to contest the polls unitedly. So, discussions took place over the last few days between the second rung of leadership of the parties on seat-sharing, he added. “Today, Farooq (Abdullah) sahab called a meeting to give final touches to the seat-sharing arrangement,” Mir said. He said the discussions have been by and large “satisfactory” and the seat-sharing arrangement is being prepared in a cordial atmosphere.
“The parties have come together in an alliance and will appeal to the people to defeat those who have forcibly implemented laws in the state and whose policies have not been in the interests of the people of J&K. This is a right opportunity for the people to protest in a democratic manner by expressing their anger by way of voting for the right candidate or combination,” Mir said.
When asked whether the Congress was in the alliance only for the polls or would continue to be a part of it, he said, “those things will come later”.
Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Shah exuded confidence that the alliance will defeat the BJP. “Party politics and numbers are immaterial. It does not matter whether any party gets three seats or one. Gupkar Alliance stays and God willing, we will win this because even though there was pressure from the government and its agencies to break the alliance, it did not break,” he said. He also appealed to the locals to be united in defeating the BJP.
“I appeal to my people because it is the matter of Article 370, our identity, our state…it is an issue of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists and Kashmiri Pandits. We have done our job and shown unity, now you, as people, should give a tight slap to the BJP in these polls,” Shah said.
Asked about PDP patron Muzaffar Hussain Beigh's resignation from the party over the seat-sharing arrangement within the alliance, he said, “Whoever leaves his party right now for another party is the biggest traitor of this nation. We request all those who have left their parties for some other party, to return as this is a matter of our identity and respond unitedly to the BJP by defeating it.”