September 26, 2020

Defining moment for mainstream unity

Though the latest remarks of National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, a three time former Chief Minister and the incumbent Member Parliament from Srinagar parliamentary constituency and Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Ghani Lone a trusted ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP  till August 4, 2019 are dropping hints that mainstream is about to set defining moment for unity, but the mistrust and deceit of yesteryears is still a big disqualification for both grand old Abdullah and Sajad Gani Lone. Though there is no ambiguity over the broader consensus on Gupkar declaration between Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference and Sajad Gani Lone’s People Conference but many smaller mainstream parties are yet to endorse the Gupkar declaration unambiguously. Persuading other smaller mainstream parties to endorse Gupkar declaration and bring them into the fold of five party alliance would decide the future of mainstream unity in Jammu & Kashmir and consequently it’s fight for restoration of statehood and special status. The Jammu & Kashmir Apni Party has thrown up a big challenges to the signatories of the Gupkar declaration by showing it’s readiness to contest elections in Jammu & Kashmir even if statehood is not restored and interestingly the  recent controversial remarks of National Conference Vice President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over participation of his party in elections for Union Territory Assembly has cast doubts over the future of the unity of five mainstream parties presently endorsing the Gupkar declaration. Omar Abdullah’s silence over the statements of his own father and National Conference President Farooq Abdullah have also create doubts in the hearts and mind of the people in both Kashmir valley and as well as Jammu region.

To restore their political credibility in the eyes of the people in Jammu & Kashmir both Farooq Abdullah and Sajad Gani Lone will have to come out with a political road map for democratic struggle against the withdrawal of statehood and special status with a clarification that whether they plan to seek negotiations over last year’s August 5 decisions to bargain for something nearer to special status or full restoration of pre-August 5, 2019 position of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state.  

Any difference of opinion within the National Conference over the participation of elections without restoration of statehood and special status would be a severe blow to the mainstream unity. The National Conference unfortunately is suffering from the crisis of credibility for decades together as the people of Kashmir trusted this party about half a dozen times since 1947 but it never withstood the pressures from political rivals to keep words on it’s stands over the restoration of autonomy. Interestingly Sajad Gani Lone too is suffering from the crisis of credibility as he failed to deliver not only as a separatist leader but also as a mainstream leader. Lone finds more critics than admirers for his deviation from the political ideology of his own father late Khawaja Abdul Gani Lone the founder of J&K Peoples’ Conference.  To restore their political credibility in the eyes of the people in Jammu & Kashmir both Farooq Abdullah and Sajad Gani Lone will have to come out with a political road map for democratic struggle against the withdrawal of statehood and special status with a clarification that whether they plan to seek negotiations over last year’s August 5 decisions to bargain for something nearer to special status or full restoration of pre-August 5, 2019 position of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state.

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