Congress' absence from recent all-party meet raises questions

Representational Pic

Even as J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G A Mir last week stated that any “forward movement on Gupkar declaration” will take place after the release of People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, the conspicuous absence of Congress representative at the all-party meeting on Thursday has raised several questions.

This has brought the Congress leadership both in J&K and at the national-level into defensive mode as they are now making all possible efforts to justify the party’s absence in the meeting of Gupkar Declaration signatories last week.

Although J&KPCC on the day of the all-party meeting issued a statement stating that its president was unable to attend the meeting “due to health reasons”, his visit to Doda district in Jammu the next day raised many eyebrows.

A spokesperson of the Congress party on Thursday said that Mir had conveyed his inability to attend the meeting to National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah as the Congress leader was advised by doctors to get himself medically examined. However, the next day after the all-party meeting, Mir travelled to Doda district in Jammu to condole the death of a party leader.

When contacted,  Mir told Greater Kashmir that there was an “exigency on the personal front” on the day of the meeting due to which he couldn’t attend it. “Not everything can be said open and wide.  We wouldn’t have issued the statement if there was more than what meets the eye,” Mir said.

When asked about the stand of Congress on the Gupkar Declaration, Mir said: “Not everything could be discussed in one meeting which I couldn’t attend. I can tell you this when I attend more meetings of the alliance in days to come. We want more and more people to support this alliance.” However, Mir said: “it was bound to happen that this Declaration was no longer kept between Gupkar and was now given a wider platform by calling it a People’s Alliance.”

Soon after absence of Congress representation in the all-party meeting on Thursday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram spoke in favour of the newly formed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.

In a series of Tweets, Chidambaram had lauded the role of regional parties of J&K “in fighting the tyranny of the centre unitedly.”

The support from the senior Congress leader and at the same time absence of Congress representation in the all-party meeting has caused ambiguity on Congress’ agenda about the Gupkar Declaration.

J&K Congress In-charge Rajni Patil told Greater Kashmir that the statement of J&K unit of Congress on its absence in the all-party meeting and the Tweets from P Chidambaram “were clear enough indication of Congress’ stand on Gupkar Declaration”.

“He (Mir) was not well that day and Mr Chidambaram’s statement clearly shows our stand on it,” Patil said.

When asked that in absence of Mir why any other JKPCC leader was not sent to attend the meet, Patil said: “The J&K unit is in a better position to answer this”.

It may be recalled that a group of disgruntled Congress leaders last Sunday during her last visit to Jammu met Patil and demanded complete restructuring of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (J&KPCC), citing “failure of the leadership to emerge as effective opposition in the Union Territory,”.

A former MLC who was also part of the 13-member group which met Patil had told this newspaper that they “categorically told the AICC leader that President of J&K Congress should be from Jammu”.

Party sources said a group of disgruntled Congress leaders in the Valley had also met Patil at Nehru guest house last week to express their concerns with regard to the present party leadership in Jammu and Kashmir.