No rift in People's Alliance, say constituents

Amid reports of a rift between the constituents of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the political parties part of the group on Sunday said they were “united to fight the forthcoming District Development Council (DDC) jointly.”

Senior leaders of the alliance, who took part in the 2.5 hours long meeting at the residence of PAGD president Dr Farooq Abdullah at Gupkar here said, “The ongoing meetings are being held for fine-tuning the final list of candidates for DDC polls.”

The PAGD, an amalgam of 7 parties, had last week announced to contest DDC polls beginning November 28 jointly. The meeting on Sunday was the fourth in the last three days to finalise the candidate list.

Addressing media persons after Sunday’s meeting, J&K Congress president, GA Mir, said the seat sharing arrangement has been made in a “cordial way”. Mir said the candidate list prepared by the second-rung leadership of the PAGD was finalised by senior leaders in the meeting on Sunday.

“The DDC elections are quite important from the point of view of people of J&K as the councils are quite vital. Our second teams had discussed some nitty gritty which was almost finalised in the meeting today,” Mir said. “Some parties were firm on claiming a stake for some seats here and there. Although there is no 100 per cent satisfaction in politics, today’s meeting was by and large satisfactory,” Mir said.

He said that by contesting polls jointly, PAGD will “defeat the elements that have been forcibly imposing unfavourable acts and laws in J&K.” “This is a good opportunity for the people to respond to such elements. Instead of holding other kinds of protests, people can now show their resentment in a democratic way by using the EVM button,” Mir said. Mir said there were no differences in PAGD over seat sharing and “whatever issues had come up were being sorted out.”

Addressing media persons after the PAGD meeting, senior vice-president, Awami National Conference, Muzaffar Ahmad Shah said the reports of rift in the alliance was incorrect. Shah described the back-to-back meetings of the alliance for finalising the candidates for DDC polls “as fine tuning of the list.”

“PAGD will beat BJP in DDC polls 140 seats to zero. That is what we have been deciding. Number of seats to contest (for each party) is immaterial,” Shah said.

Shah urged people to “stay united to give a befitting reply to BJP in the DDC polls.”

“This is an issue of restoration of Article 370 and our identity. So I urge people to stay united in a similar way the PAGD partners have maintained their unity.”

Reacting to the resignation of former PDP patron, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Shah said any leader who changes his party to get into another party fold at this point of time “is the biggest traitor of J&K.”

Later in the day, after attending a PDP meeting at the residence of party president Mehbooba Mufti, senior PDP leader Ghulam Nabi Lone Hajura said PAGD leaders “won’t let the alliance to suffer”. “Elections are not the priority, as we are fighting for a greater cause of Article 370 restoration. As far seat sharing is concerned, the discussions for some districts are still going on. We won’t let down the alliance at any cost” Hanjura said.

Reacting to Muzaffar Baig’s resignation from PDP, Hanjura said: “No doubt one feels bad that he has left as he was our patron. If anyone quits the party just because of seat sharing, it shows his selfishness.”

The election commission has announced DDC polls on 280 seats in 8 phases in J&K.