PDP to hold meeting to discuss Centre’s invite to political parties in J-K for talks

PDP to hold meeting to discuss Centre’s invite to political parties in J-K for talks

Srinagar: The PDP will hold a meeting on Sunday to discuss the invitation of the Centre to regional political parties of Jammu and Kashmir for talks, party president Mehbooba Mufti said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to chair a meeting with all political parties from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 as part of the Centre’s initiatives to bolster political processes, including holding assembly elections, in the union territory, officials had said on Friday.

The meeting — the first such exercise since the Centre announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into union territories in August 2019 — is likely to be attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders.

Mehbooba told PTI, “There is no clear-cut agenda about the talks with New Delhi. However, I have asked my party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) for a meeting to discuss the same.”

The last chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, who had an alliance government with the BJP from 2016 to 2018, had received a call from the Centre for a meeting on June 24 on the union territory.

She said that the decision of whether to participate in the talks would be taken by the party for which the PAC has been called on Sunday.

“There is no agenda for the meeting but I was conveyed that the meeting is being called to review the general situation and how to take the political process forward. There is no clear-cut agenda,” Mehbooba said.

The PAC headed by Mehbooba has as members leaders like A R Veeri, Muhammad Sartaj Madni, G N Lone Hanjura, Dr Mehboob Beg, Naeem Akhtar, Surinder Choudhary, Yashpal Sharma, Master Tassaduq Hussain, Sofi Abdul Gaffar, Nizam ud Din Bhat, Aasiya Naqash, Firdous Ahmad Tak, Muhammad Khursheed Alam and Advocate Muhammad Yusuf Bhat.

However, Madni, who is the maternal uncle of Mehbooba, is at present in preventive detention.

The Centre has also begun the process of inviting National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah, Altaf Bukhari of the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP), and People’s Conference head Sajjad Lone for the discussions, the officials had said.

Asked about the prospect of talks with the Centre, CPI(M) leader and spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) M Y Tarigami had said there has been no word from New Delhi, but added that if it happens, it would be welcomed.

“We have never closed our doors for meaningful engagement with the Centre. Though I have no information about any dialogue, if it happens, it will be welcomed,” Tarigami had said.

The PAGD is an alliance of some parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the NC and the PDP, that was formed in the aftermath of the Centre’s August 2019 decisions.

In the District Development Council election last year, the PAGD surged way ahead of the BJP and its allies, including the JKAP, by bagging 110 seats out of 280 with the National Conference emerging stronger with 67 seats within the alliance. The BJP was the single largest party with 75 seats.

The Jammu and Kashmir units of the BJP and the Congress are also likely to be part of these discussions, which are being seen as part of efforts to strengthen normal political processes in the union territory.

The political mainstream of the union territory, especially those having a strong base in Kashmir Valley, have been critical of successive administrations of the union territory for neglecting the demands of the people and raising questions on the development slogan raised post August 2019.

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