The PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti might skip Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with J&K leaders that has been convened on 24 June to break the long stretched political impasse in the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir. However, the National Conference (NC) after separate deliberations announced in the evening that the party chief Dr. Farooq Abdullah will participate in the meeting.
Mehbooba on Sunday morning convened a meeting of the political affairs committee (PAC) of the party to deliberate on the issue of the invitation for the meeting. Sources said although the PAC authorized her to take the final call, Mehbooba was likely to skip the meeting because of the “insulting manner” in which the BJP had toppled the PDP—BJP coalition government headed by her on 19 June 2018. Moreover, she might take the tough stand in a bid to retrieve her position in the valley.
However, the final decision on the issue will be taken by her in the meeting of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) in Srinagar on 22 June.
The PDP tweeted after the PAC meeting; “Political affairs committee (PAC) of the party which met today authorised @jkpdp President @MehboobaMufti to take the final call over the participation in the proposed All Party Meet on J&K convened in Delhi”. The final decision will come through the PAGD on Tuesday, said a PDP spokesman.
NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar told media persons after a meeting of top party leaders that the party will attend the meeting with PM. However, another senior leader of NC, Mohammad Akbar Lone insisted that the party will take up in the PM’s meeting the issue of restoration of the Article 370 that was abrogated on 5 August 2019. He said that the NC will attend the meeting as a PAGD forum.
Fourteen J&K leaders, including former chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and presidents of the mainstream political parties have been invited for the meeting.
Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief GA Mir has engaged the party leadership on the issue and there was a likelihood of the party attending the PM’s meeting. Mir said that the Congress believes in the process of dialogue to settle issues. Another Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is one of the top leaders of the G-23 Group within the party, has also been invited for the meet in his capacity as a former chief minister.
The BJP and Altaf Bukhari led J&K Apni Party have confirmed their participation, while four other parties, PDP, Congress, Peoples Conference and CPI(M), will hold deliberations with their respective leadership on the issue.
A senior leader of J&K Apni Party Ghulam Hassan Mir while welcoming the step tweeted; “A Good initiative by Government of India to reach out the Politicians of J&K .People of J&K are yearning for empowerment. Election to the assembly and Statehood are the main concerns . People want their own Government. Earlier the better”.
However, leaders who have been invited for the meeting were so far not aware of the agenda of the meeting.
Modi held a high-level meeting on Sunday with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly to set the roadmap for the meeting. Holding assembly elections might be on the top of the agenda but for that purpose the NC will have to withdraw its boycott of the J&K Delimitation Commission. NC is special invitee of the commission as it represents all the three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir valley.