‘Restoration of Article 370’, ‘full statehood' and a 'new social contract’ ; Here’s what political leaders from J&K will demand at the meeting with PM Modi

The meeting on June 24 in New Delhi is being seen as the first crucial step by the Centre aimed at resuming the political process in the UT after the removal of special status to the erstwhile state on August 5, 2019.

June 24, 2021 / 02:51 PM IST
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah (File image)

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah (File image)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on June 24 chair a meeting of political leaders from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state.

The meeting in New Delhi is being seen as a crucial step by the Centre aimed at resuming the political process in the UT after the abrogation of Article 370 granting special status to the erstwhile state. This might as well pave way for holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, ending the Central rule imposed in June 2018.

All political parties, including the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of five regional political parties of Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress, the Peoples Conference, and the Apni Party have said they will attend the all-party meeting. Ravinder Raina and Nirmal Singh from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and  Bhim Singh of Jammu-based National Panthers Party will also attend the meeting.

While there has been no official word on the agenda of the meeting, reports have suggested that the Prime Minister would urge leaders to cooperate with the delimitation commission and set the electoral process in motion. Speculation is also rife that Centre would restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

Read - Explained | Delimitation in J&K: Here's all you need to know about the exercise

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MoneyControl looks at the demands of the political parties attending the meeting:

PAGD: Restoration of Article 370

The PAGD, or Gupkar Alliance, constituting the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M), the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM), the Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference (JKANC) and the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples' Conference, had come up just ahead of last year’s District Development Polls (DDC) as a united front against the BJP to collectively fight for the restoration of Article 370.

The People’s Conference headed by Sajad Gani Lone had pulled out of the alliance in January this year.

"The Gupkar allaince has been formed for restoration of what was taken away from us on August 5, 2019. Statehood is PM's own commitment. They won't be doing us a favour by giving us statehood back," former CM Mehbooba Mufti told NDTV on June 23 after the PAGD announced that it attend the meeting called by the Prime Minister.

Before contesting the DDC polls held in November-December last year, the PAGD had been adamant on its demand of the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status prior to August 5, 2019. In its two declarations signed on August 4, 2019 and August 22, 2020 the alliance leaders held on to their demand of restoration of Article 370.

Also, read : Will press for restoration of special status of J-K during PM Modi's all-party meeting: Mehbooba Mufti

The Gupkar alliance had been ‘inactive’ for six months after the DDC polls, which it won, until June 9 when the leaders met at former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s residence amid rumours of a possible ‘big development’ being pushed by the Centre in the Union Territory with several mainstream leaders fearing re-arrest seeking clarification from the government.

“Whatever is possible within the Indian constitution is what we are going to seek. We will seek something that is ours and will remain ours,” PAGD spokesperson MY Tarigami said on June 23. Tarigami the CPIM leader, who will attend the June 24 meeting in New Delhi along with two former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, said the alliance will put forward the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir during the meeting with the Prime Minister.

Congress: Statehood for Jammu and Kashmir

The Congress was one of the signatories of the Gupkar declaration at the outset but has not been forthcoming on the alliance’s demand of restoring the Article 370. The Congress did not contest the DDC elections with the alliance. The party has been however demanding that statehood be restored in the UT.

Also, read: Jammu & Kashmir's statehood to be restored, PM Modi to share roadmap at June 24 all-party meeting: Report

Congress leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the invitees in the June 24 meeting, said that full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir will be on top of Congress’ agenda in the meeting. Azad did not say anything about the restoration of Article 370 restoration, according to a report in the Indian Express.

The Congress party decided to attend the meeting after deliberations at a high-level meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi on June 22. The meeting was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior Congress leaders Karan Singh and P Chidambaram and state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. The Congress is also expected to seek early assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Also, read: P Chidambaram demands restoration of statehood to Jammu & Kashmir

Peoples Conference: ‘Scripting a new social contract’

Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference was the first political party from Jammu and Kashmir to welcome Centre’s invite for the June 24 talks. Lone chaired a meeting of the party leaders in this context on June 21.

The meeting, according to a statement, emphasised the need for the political class to play a constructive role vis-à-vis ending the prevalent logjam in the UT.

“Post August 5, there is a dire need for scripting a new social contract between Delhi and the people of J&K to address the aspirations of the people of J&K,” the statement said. The party has not said anything on the restoration of statehood or Article 370.

Apni Party: ‘Safeguard socio-economic interests’

The Apni Party has authorised its president and former Peoples Democratic Party leader Altaf Bukhari to represent it at the meeting in New Delhi on June 24.

The party has resolved that it stands by the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will take all steps to safeguard their socio-economic and political interests at all forums. The party has been vocal in its demand for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP: 'Address local-level issues'

The BJP has said that the move my Prime Minister to call the all party meeting was part of the Central government’s efforts to strengthen the grassroots level democracy for the first time in seventy years.

Also, read : Alert in Kashmir Valley before PM Narendra Modi's meeting with J&K leaders

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina along with two senior party leaders -- former deputy chief ministers Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta will attend the June 24 meeting.

“It is a proud moment for us that the Prime Minister has called a meeting. We will raise issues faced by people of the UT at the meeting,” Raina said.
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 11 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.

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