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Will last ditch efforts to save PAGD in J&K succeed?


Will last ditch efforts to save PAGD in J&K succeed?

Srinagar, March 13 (IANS) The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) was formed immediately after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of J&K into two Union Territories in 2019.

In less than five years, the alliance appears to have crumbled. After National Conference (NC), vice president, Omar Abdullah announced his party would contest all three Lok Sabha seats in the Valley, the other major constituent of the PAGD, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Mehbooba Mufti was left with only two options – eat humble pie and let the NC have its way or decide to field candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in the Valley for a direct electoral battle with the NC.

“How can anyone be expecting the PDP to give up its political existence? By not fielding any candidate for the Lok Sabha polls, we would not even be called the ‘B team’ of the NC. “Politics is about compromises and not about solo sacrifices”, said a senior PDP leader close to Mufti.

On his part, Omar Abdullah has repeated more than once that there would be no compromise so far as fighting on all the three Lok Sabha seats in the Valley was concerned.

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The confusion was compounded by NC president, Farooq Abdullah. When the development was brought to his notice in an interview to a senior Jammu-based journalist, the elder Abdullah surprised everybody by saying that he had also read this in the newspaper as “he had left behind his cell phone in Srinagar”.

PDP insiders told IANS that Mehbooba Mufti has made it clear that the PDP is not interested in any ‘Dangal’ since the people are fed up of political dangals in the past.

This shows that Mufti has been maintaining her cool despite media questions and pressures from within her party.

The most left-handed comment in this regard was made by Omar when he said that it was not the NC, but the people who had kept the PDP out as the PDP had finished at number 3 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when the NC’s Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi won south Kashmir’s Anantnag seat.

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Mehbooba Mufti replied to the charge by saying that winning or losing the election is no reason for a person to be kept out of the fight next time.

She was obviously alluding to Omar Abdullah’s defeat at the hands of the PDP candidate in the 2002 Assembly elections.

It is against this bitter war of attrition that two other constituents of the PAGD, Yusuf Tarigami of the CPI-M and Muzaffar Shah of the Awami National Conference (ANC) headed by Dr. Farooq’s elder sister, Khalida Shah, are trying to save the alliance.

Muzaffar Shah told reporters that he would speak to Farooq Abdullah also since the PAGD represents a cause and not a political combination.

Yusuf Tarigami has also expressed hope that the PAGD would not break. Both these leaders have called on Mehbooba Mufti.

“Just waving an olive branch without any idea about the way out of Omar Abdullah’s firm decision not to concede a single Valley Lok Sabha seat to the PDP is like expecting the impossible from the PDP to save the PAGD.

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“We have done nothing to harm the alliance. Are the two negotiators carrying somebody’s brief to save the PAGD?

“The negotiators must address themselves to where the problem arose.

“We respect the sincerity of both Tarigami Sahib and Muzaffar Shah Sahib, but to work in the right direction they need the trust of the other side. Do they have that?”, questioned another senior PDP leader who did not want to be named.

Except for making themselves heard, Yusuf Tarigami and Muzaffar Shah appear to have made little headway in saving the PAGD.

In political circles, voices are already being heard which talk of the PAGD in the past tense.

The PAGD was formed to fight for the ‘restoration of Article 370 and statehood’.

Its six constituents were the NC, PDP, ANC, CPI-M, Peoples Conference headed by Sajad Gani Lone and the Peoples Movement formed by then estranged IAS officer, Shah Faesal.

Both PC and the Peoples Movement later left the PAGD.

As the senior-most leader, Farooq Abdullah headed the PAGD.



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