Congress supports Gupkar alliance but not sure if it wants to be party to it
Congress supports Gupkar alliance: Congress leaders in Jammu and Kashmir supported Gupkar alliance’s sentiment but have not been sure if they want to be part of the coalition completely, especially after BJP labelled the group’s leaders as ‘anti-nationals’. Congress broke its silence over its level of association with the group after Gupkar Alliance released names of the joint candidates for the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) election, on Monday. The group pulled out names of the its candidates from Congress and six other parties, which are part of the union.
Soon after release of the alliance’s candidate list, BJP slammed Congress for supporting it and joining its anti-national cause. Congress leaders, specially from Jammu have not been comfortable with the group’s demands for restoring Article 370 as they felt that it might not go well with their Hindu vote base in the region. Besides, the key agenda of the union was to launch a “constitutional battle” for restoring the land and job rights of people, full statehood and reclaiming the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, which it enjoyed till Aug 4, 2019.
JK Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said that his party was yet to decide if it wants to join the group completely and be represented by it. He said, “We have a seat sharing agreement with the Gupkar Alliance. We haven’t held talks on the agenda. We did not get any time as the elections were announced all of a sudden,” he said, adding, “those conversations haven’t happened yet.”
Internal sources revealed that Congress leaders of the state felt that it would be too risky for congress to formally join the union and hold elections together. One of the leaders said, “It may be a great idea and fetch votes in Kashmir but carrying such a plank to Jammu can in fact be disastrous. “All of a sudden we are on a weak wicket inspite of having gained so much in last one year.” In many areas where we are contesting, demanding Article 370 back is like shooting your own foot; it is non-negotiable,” he added.
Congress leaders have been wary of their association with the alliance especially after the remarks of alliance chief Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti. Recently Abdullah said that sought China’s help to help J&K regain its status granted under Article 370, while Mufti said that she would not hold Indian flag unless the flag of erstwhile state was recalled. Both the leaders gave explanation for their statements during their last week’s visit to Jammu after BJP labelled them ‘anti-nationals’. Abdullah clarified that he could be called anti-BJP but not anti-national and Mufti said that she would carry tricolour in one hand and J&K flag in another if Article 370 could be restored.
The alliance came into being to form a united front against the BJP-led central government. Six parties of Jammu and Kashmir formed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, giving a formal structure to their union. It was formed last year on August 4, a day before the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, but took a formal structure almost a year later on October 22. CPI (M) and Congress also extended its support to the union.
All the parties in the state have started to prepare for the DDC polls for 280 seats, which would begin from November 28. The result for the eight phase elections would be declared in December.