At a time when political uncertainty is looming large in Jammu and Kashmir, the formation of a much-speculated third front has set the political parties in motion, who are trying hard to reclaim their lost grounds. On January 23, addressing a joint press conference in Jammu, Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) president Ghulam Hassan Mir and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Dilawar Mir urged the central government to restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, secure job and land in the newly formed UT. Speaking to NewsClick, DPN president, Ghulam Hassan Mir said that there are talks going on the formation of third front.
“Yes, there are talks going on the formation of a third front. We are thinking about it. I feel something like a third front will happen. We can’t remain in this mess, we have to take forward the political process. We also want the political detainees to be released to initiate this process. Then we can see how the third front will shape up,” Mir told NewsClick. Ghulam and Dilawar were among eight Kashmiri politicians who had recently met Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu. Dilawar is an ex-PDP leader who has been expelled from the party following the meeting with the Governor. He has maintained that he had met the governor in his personal capacity and not as a PDP leader.
“Who has the power to expel us from the party when our president and vice-president are under detention. What was the justification of our expulsion? Because we met Lt Governor to raise public issues?,” he questioned at a press conference.
The members in the meeting were seen as “opportunists” by the political parties.
Also read: A New Mainstream in the Offing in Kashmir’s Politics?
The chief spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress, Ravinder Sharma, said, “We don’t know about any third front or anything. The politicians who participated in the meeting with Murmu are the ones who have always shifted sides as per their convenience. They are ones who supported Article 370 and are now looking beyond it.”
The meeting with Murmu was the first official contact between the politicians and the administration after the abrogation of the erstwhile state’s special status on August 5. Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman of J&K National Panthers Party told NewsClick, “They are opportunists and they should be seen like that. We are even hearing that they are being installed by BJP and you never know, they might be.”
Need for Elections
It seems Article 370 is a thing of past as political parties don’t want to talk about its restoration but are rallying around the restoration of statehood to the newly formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “Why aren’t they holding elections? When they say there is normalcy, then denying elections is absolutely wrong. Elections should be held soon,” Singh said. He added that the elections will be held on the lines of statehood, saying, “If elections happen, our party will raise the issue of statehood and domicile. Our question is why a state has been downgraded to a Union Territory.”
The bait given by Home Minister Amit Shah that statehood will restored as soon as normalcy prevails in Jammu and Kashmir, has been picked up by the political parties to revive their ground. On October 7, 2019, Shah had said, “Jammu and Kashmir would not remain a Union Territory forever and its statehood would be returned once the situation is normalised.”
Also read: Ambiguity Over Safeguarding Land and Jobs Worries J&K People
“They have to explain how they downgraded the well-established state of Jammu and Kashmir to a Union Territory. There are many other issues like communication blockade, restrictions but primarily, if elections happen we will take up the statehood issue and protection of jobs and land in Jammu and Kashmir,” Ravinder Singh from Congress said.
Political commentators believe that the nature of Kashmir’s politics has not changed. Political parties continued participating in elections after several blunders in the past including rigging. They will still do that.
Meanwhile, the top leadership of National Conference (NC) and PDP (People’s Democratic Party) continue to remain under detention.