Srinagar: Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday hit out at mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir calling their alliance a “gang” set out to bring back the era of “turmoil” in the Valley. His remarks invoked sharp criticism from former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Shah, in a series of tweets, alleged that the regional parties in J&K were seeking an intervention from “foreign forces” in the region while asking Congress party to clear its stand regarding the issue.
“The Gupkar Gang is going global! They want foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir. 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,” Shah wrote on the micro-blogging site.
In his second tweet, Shah alleged, Congress and the “Gupkar Gang” want to take the erstwhile state of J&K back to the era of “terror and turmoil” but, have been “rejected” by the people.
The comments from the senior BJP leader, whose party is locked in a contest with regional political parties in the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls to be held from November 28, drew condemnation from the regional politicians, including former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah.
“I can understand the frustration behind this attack by the Hon’ble Home Minister. He had been briefed that the People’s Alliance was preparing to boycott elections. This would have allowed the BJP & newly formed King’s party a free run in J&K. We didn’t oblige them,” Omar wrote back in reply to the BJP minister.
The senior National Conference (NC) leader hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party for referring to their alliance as a “gang” and called out the BJP’s prejudice against those who oppose them.
“Only in J&K can leaders be detained & called anti-national for participating in elections & supporting the democratic process. The truth is all those who oppose the ideology of the BJP are labelled “corrupt & anti-national”. We are not a “gang” Amit Shah ji, we are a legitimate political alliance having fought & continuing to fight elections, much to your disappointment,” Omar added.
Omar is part of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which is an amalgam of seven parties demanding the restoration of Article 370 and statehood for Jammu and Kashmir, a status in which J&K existed before August 5, 2019. The PAGD is opposing the unilateral decision of the BJP-led government at the Centre to revoke the “special status” of Kashmir and since, has been censured by BJP. The local leaders formally announced the alliance after all senior politicians of the region were released from their year-long detention since August last year.
“Old habits die hard. Earlier BJPs narrative was that the tukde tukde gang threatened India’s sovereignty & they are now using ‘Gupkar Gang’ euphemism to project us as anti nationals. Irony died a million deaths since its BJP itself that violates the constitution day in & day out,” People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti wrote on Twitter.
In a series of tweets Mehbooba, who was the last leader to be released from detention, hit back at BJP accusing the Right-wing party of dividing the country.
“BJPs stale tactic of dividing India by projecting themselves as saviours & political opponents as internal & imagined enemies is far too predictable now. Love jihad, tukde tukde & now Gupkar Gang dominates the political discourse instead of like rising unemployment & inflation,” Mehbooba added.
Many had expected the signatories of the Gupkar alliance would not participate in the upcoming DDC polls as a mark of protest, something that would delegitimise the electoral process. The political parties, however, announced their willingness to join the contest stating that the alliance will “not leave any space open” for BJP, a challenge PAGD said is rather “symbolic.”
The PAGD or the Gupkar Alliance includes Farooq Abdullah-led NC, Mehbooba led PDP and Sajad Lone led People’s Conference (PC), Awami National Conference (ANC), Jammu Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM), Congress party and Communist Party of India (Marxist). All these parties will be fighting BJP in the upcoming DDC polls, a first major electoral process in J&K since the abrogation of Article 370 last year, on a seat-sharing arrangement.