Srinagar: The Peoples Conference (PC) Tuesday quit the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a group of regional parties that came together to get Article 370 restored in Jammu & Kashmir.
In a letter to senior PAGD member and former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who is the MP for Srinagar, PC chairman Sajad Gani Lone attributed his decision to a “breach of trust” between the alliance partners during the J&K District Development Council (DDC) elections, whose results were announced last month.
Lone, who also served as PAGD spokesperson, talked about the issue of alliance partners fielding “proxy candidates” against coalition nominees. In several seats during the DDC elections, members of the parties that constitute the PAGD contested against the coalition nominees, an issue that has caused much heartburn in the alliance.
The DDC polls were the first electoral exercise in J&K since the scrapping of Article 370.
“It is difficult for us to stay on and pretend as if nothing has happened. There has been a breach of trust between partners which we believe is beyond remedy,” he added in the letter, which was also released to the media.
“The majoritarian view in our party is that we should pull out of the alliance in an amicable manner rather than waiting for things to get messier. And I am confirming that we will no longer be a part of the PAGD alliance,” Lone said.
Lone’s party is the first to break from the three-month-old alliance, which has been in the news amid murmurs of discontent among partners. The coalition will now be left with six members.
‘Not divorcing from alliance objectives’
In his letter, Lone said his party was “divorcing from the alliance not its objectives”.
“We will continue to adhere to the objectives that we set out when this alliance was made. And the PAGD leadership should be assured that we will extend support on all issues which fall within the ambit of stated objectives. We have issued clear instructions to all party leaders not to issue any statements against PAGD alliance or its leaders,” he added.
Lone’s letter came a day after he chaired an intra-party meeting in Srinagar.
Referring to discussions at the meeting, he said the “predominant feeling” was that “the PAGD sentiment at the top was not emulated on the ground”.
“It was felt that the results of a sincere alliance should have meant that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” he said. Instead, “the whole was not greater than the sum of parts, sadly not even equal to the sum of parts, but much lesser and equal to just one part of the many parts”, he added.
In the majority of places, Lone said, “the party fielding the candidate on behalf of PAGD was left to fend for itself”. Other parties were silent bystanders or “worse, compounded the problem by fielding proxy candidates”, he said.
In recent days, multiple leaders from Lone’s party, including Imran Ansari and Abdul Gani Vakil, have questioned the PAGD leadership over the question of “proxy” candidates in the DDC polls as well as a meeting between alliance constituents National Conference (NC) and CPI(M) with the Lieutenant-Governor.
Fayaz Mir of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Basharat Bukhari of the NC are among others who have raised questions about the PAGD leadership lacking strategy.
“This alliance needed sacrifice. Every party had to sacrifice on the ground in terms of giving space to fellow allies. No party is willing to cede space, no party is willing to sacrifice,” Lone wrote. “We fought against each other in Kashmir province not against the perpetrators of 5 August (2019, the day Article 370 was scrapped). And those who perpetrated 5 August and their minions are now vocally gleeful.”
A source in the JKPC said the only party comfortable in the alliance is the NC as it “won the largest share of DDC seats”.
“The PDP and the PC have been facing a very difficult situation. We weren’t doing anything in the PAGD. There isn’t much happening in the PAGD and we don’t know what the PC will do next,” the source added.
Fielding “proxies”, the source said, has “damaged the alliance badly”.
Lone, who was a separatist politician had faced accusations from the Hurriyat Conference for fielding proxy candidates in the 2002 assembly elections. This was despite separatist groups boycotting all electoral processes.
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