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Rift surfaces in Gupkar Alliance after rivalry in local polls

Rift surfaces in Gupkar Alliance after rivalry in local polls

The valley-based regional political alliance against the BJP government at the Centre, known as the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), seems to be falling apart over the issue of the candidates of different constituents having contested against one another in the recent District Development Council (DDC) elections.

Close on the heels of criticism coming from some former ministers and a member of Parliament, influential cleric-politician Imran Reza Ansari has confronted the chairman of his Peoples Conference (PC), Sajad Lone, and asked him tough questions. The PC has discreetly cautioned Ansari against washing any dirty linen in public.

Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC), Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and Sajad Lone’s PC are the three key constituents of the PAGD. The alliance functioning under President Farooq Abdullah had been formed last year to continue the struggle for restoration of Article 370 and 35-A which had been abrogated by the
Centre in August 2019. After the Congress ditched the alliance right at the start of the DDC election, the CPI (M) is the only national party in the PAGD.

Those who have voiced displeasure and concern publicly over infighting within the alliance include PC’s vice president and former Minister Abdul Gani Vakil, former Minister and NC leader Syed Basharat Bukhari and the PDP’s Rajya Sabha member Mir Mohammad Fayaz.

On Friday, PC general secretary Imran Reza Ansari triggered a controversy with a letter to the party chief Sajad Lone.

Cracks, which for many may be conveniently underplayed as ‘democratic dissent’, are showing up in the PAGD even as the top brass leaders Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Lone have diluted their months-long tirade against the BJP and the Centre and remained mute to some important political developments. The PAGD leaders have neither held a joint news conference nor a meeting after the DDC election results were declared on 22 December.

Ansari, an influential Shia politician and clergyman, has urged the PC chairman Lone to convene a meeting of the working committee and explain why Abdullah’s own National Conference (NC) had fielded ‘proxy candidates’ against the official candidates of the PAGD, particularly in the segments allotted to the PC.

In a letter dated 8 January 2021, Ansari has written to Lone that NC’s Lok Sabha member from northern Kashmir, Mohammad Akbar Lone, had fielded proxy candidates against the PC candidates at several places. He has demanded action against the people who had worked to defeat the PAGD’s own candidates.

Ansari has also asked Lone as to why he had been served a notice over meeting Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha while nobody had questioned the NC delegation’s and the CPI (M) Secretary Mohammad Yusuf Tarigmi’s meeting with the same LG. The NC delegation that met Sinha in Jammu included Devender Singh Rana and former Ministers
Surjit Singh Salathia and Ajay Sadhotra. Both, the NC as well as the CPI (M) delegations, reportedly appreciated LG’s presiding over the free and fair DDC elections.

“Isn’t this cheating? How can you keep quiet on such issues? And if it was such an important referendum, why didn’t the NC come out and campaign?”, Ansari has written in his letter. “Would you Sajad Sahab care to explain why did the NC leaders including the current Parliament member of NC (Mohammad Akbar Lone) and their constituency
head hold indoor meetings and campaigned against these two candidates of PAGD (in Pattan)?”

In an apparent reaction to Ansari’s letter and similar complaints from some former Ministers and one Rajya Sabha member, the PC tweeted on Saturday: “Senior leaders should desist from expressing grievances publicly. The best forum to discuss any grievances is the forum within the party. This dividing line between airing grievances publicly and indiscipline is very thin”..