Rumbles within the Gupkar alliance grow louder ahead of Lok Sabha election

Rumbles within the Gupkar alliance grow louder ahead of Lok Sabha election

The key constituents in Jammu & Kashmir of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — the National Conference (NC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — are hardening their positions over contesting independently in the Lok Sabha election in 2024. This is likely to pose a challenge to the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc of Opposition parties.

The NC’s vice president Omar Abdullah, who toured north Kashmir recently, minced no words on fielding candidates from Kashmir, particularly north Kashmir, which his party won in the 2019 polls. Mr. Abdullah has been advocating within the INDIA alliance that a party should be allowed to retain its seats when its candidates had won the previous Parliament elections.

The NC and PDP are also constituents of the INDIA alliance.

“The Gupkar alliance is not an electoral alliance but an ideological alliance,” an NC leader said, on condition of anonymity.

The Gupkar alliance was founded on August 4, 2019, just a day ahead of the Centre’s move to end J&K’s special status. The alliance pledged to work together to restore the pre-August 5, 2019 position in J&K. In 2020, the Gupkar alliance parties contested the District Development Council elections together and won the highest number of seats — 110 out of 180. Of late, however, there have been growing differences within the amalgam in J&K, with mid-rung party leaders taking pot-shots at each other in public rallies.

Days after Mr. Abdullah’s recent remarks on fielding a candidate from north Kashmir, which he made at a public rally in north Kashmir, the PDP also constituted a three-member election board, headed by senior leader Abdul Rehman Veeri, to prepare for elections and identify candidates. Party sources said the PDP, too, was chalking out plans to hold rallies in central and south Kashmir over the coming days to galvanise support ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Party sources said the INDIA alliance had to take the final call on seat sharing in J&K, which has five Lok Sabha segments (three in Kashmir, and two in Jammu). A PDP leader said the party “could not be pushed to the corner” in J&K.

The decision on whether to contest elections together or separately would first have to be taken by NC president Farooq Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

“No decision has been taken [on whether her party would contest the Lok Sabha election in an alliance with the National Conference (NC) and Congress or not],” Ms. Mufti said, while responding to a question on the alliance in Srinagar on Monday.

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