Sounding the poll bugle ahead of local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday termed the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration an "unholy global alliance" that along with the Congress wants to return to the era of terror and turmoil.
The statement evoked angry reactions from the Congress, NC and the PDP, which dismissed the remarks as baseless and hit out at the minister.
In a series of tweets, Shah also labelled the PAGD, a newly formed conglomerate of political parties, the "Gupkar Gang" that is going global and wants foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Congress and the Gupkar Gang want to take JK back to the era of terror and turmoil. They want to take away rights of Dalits, women and tribals that we have ensured by removing Article 370. This is why they're being rejected by the people everywhere," he said.
Shah's comments came ahead of the first phase of District Development Council elections on November 25, the first political exercise since the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 on August 5 last year and bifurcated the state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The minister said Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will always be an integral part of India and the people of the country will no longer tolerate an "unholy global gathbandhan" against India's national interest.
"Either the Gupkar Gang swims along with the national mood or else the people will sink it," he said.
The home minister also questioned Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on whether they support the PAGD.
"The Gupkar Gang also insults India's tricolour. Do Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji support such moves of the Gupkar Gang? They should make their stand crystal clear to the people of India," he said.
On August 4, 2019, a day before the central government announced the abrogation of Article 370, political parties in Kashmir, except the BJP, met at the residence of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah at Gupkar Road in Srinagar and adopted a declaration to defend Article 370.
Besides the PDP and the NC, the alliance also comprises the CPI-M, People's Conference, Awami National Conference, the CPI and the People's Movement, which was formed by IAS officer Shah Faesal, who has since resigned from the party.
More than a year later, in October, the political leaders who had been detained for several months met again and resolved to fight legally and democratically for restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
In November, the seven-party amalgam announced they would contest the local body elections together. The Congress also expressed its willingness for seat sharing arrangement in some districts.
National Conference's Farooq Abdullah is PAGD president and Mehbooba its vice president. Veteran CPI-M leader M Y Tarigami is the convenor while People's Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone is spokesperson.