Is PAGD on verge of splitting? PDP-Congress may strike a political deal ahead of polls
Ahead of the announcement of the Assembly polls and submission of the Delimitation Commission report Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on April 24 with a bag full of developmental projects to set the stage for the poll campaign in the coming months.
Shortly after his departure Union Home Minister Amit Shah is also expected to address a massive Sankalp Rally on May 8 to reiterate India’s claim over Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK). As of now the organizers of the rally are still awaiting final confirmation about the participation of the Union Home Minister.
The rally is being organized by Jammu and Kashmir People’s Forum to recall the sacrifices of PoJK refugees, West Pakistan refugees, and Chhamb refugees of the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.
These two big events have already galvanized BJP’s cadre ahead of sounding the poll bugle.
In contrast to this, the opposition parties remain in disarray in Jammu and Kashmir.
Differences have also surfaced within the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).
The two main constituents of the PAGD, the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party are once again pulling in different directions.
The alliance members are yet to determine whether they will be contesting the forthcoming Assembly polls unitedly or separately.
Recently when PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti, feeling sidelined in the alliance, called on Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi it gave a clear indication that all is not well within the alliance.
At the same time, former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah were seen attending the marriage reception of union cabinet minister Dr. Jitendra Singh‘s son in the union capital. Several others from Jammu and Kashmir including Sajjad Lone, Syed Altaf Bukhari, and Imran Raza Ansari also attended the marriage function.
Political observers in Kashmir valley believed options were limited for Mehbooba Mufti to stay relevant in Kashmir politics.
Ever since the majority of party leaders dumped her and joined the JKAPNI party, National Conference, and other political outfits Mehbooba Mufti was left alone with a handful of faithful in her coterie. But by joining hands with the Congress party the party can give a respectable fight to their opponents and win sizable seats in South Kashmir districts of the valley, a strong bastion of the party.
Whether or not a formal alliance will fructify or only tacit understanding will arrive between the two former alliance partners remains to be seen. Between 2002-2007, PDP and Congress ran an alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir.
On the other hand, the National Conference is also keeping its cards close to its chest. By not remaining an active partner within the PAGD the National Conference leaders have been trying their best to cozy up to BJP in the run-up to the Assembly polls. On the surface, they will continue to contest and rally against each other but in the event of a shortage of mandate, the two parties can form a post-poll alliance to form a new government in Jammu and Kashmir. Unlike PDP the National Conference cannot afford to announce their pre-poll alliance with the ruling party in power as it would directly harm their poll prospects in Kashmir valley where BJP continues to remain unpopular.
In the event of these political developments, it would be interesting to see how other significant players in the Kashmir valley play their politics on the ground. The Jammu and Kashmir Apni party, a new political party that is going to contest its first Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, is working hard to expand its voter base and create an independent space for itself to register a victory in Srinagar and central Kashmir districts. The party is also banking on its support base in the North Kashmir districts.
In the Jammu region, the Bharatiya Janta Party is hoping to repeat its previous performance but the last-minute entry of the Aam Admi Party into the poll arena may disturb its apple cart in the region. The party offices of AAP are already flooded with new workers, leaders from different parties who are keen to give a tough fight to the existing players but in the absence of a significant face of the party, the momentum generated in its support may not be able to consolidate its vote base to ensure their victory on a large number of seats. The faction-ridden Congress party leaders in the Jammu region are also facing the heat on ground zero. The top brass of the party continues to strike discordant notes and fight with each other. The final tally of seats would chiefly determine the shape of the post-poll alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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