National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti and other members of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration address the media in Srinagar. (PTI)
Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be meeting leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of mainstream parties in J&K, in New Delhi today.
The Centre sees the Delhi talks, the first since the stripping of the special status of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories in 2019, as a crucial step towards the return of elected representatives and the holding of Assembly elections subsequently in the two UTs to end Central rule imposed in June 2018.
The government, official sources have indicated, is ready to discuss all issues that the J&K parties will bring to the table, but for now it is focused on getting the delimitation exercise completed and hold elections in J&K as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission held a virtual meeting with the Deputy Commissioners of all J&K districts to discuss details of existing electoral constituencies. PM Modi plans to kick-start the political process leading to Assembly elections, the first step towards having an elected government in the Union Territory of J&K.
While Modi has reiterated that statehood is the inevitable destination of a political process, a possible roadmap towards that is also on the table for the meeting scheduled at 3 pm on June 24 in Delhi.
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A security personnel stands guard in Srinagar on Thursday. (PTI)
Speaking about the talks, National Conference president (Jammu) Devender Singh Rana said the party is ready for “any dialogue that can take us out of this morass and any dialogue which will lead to the welfare of the state of J&K and its people”.
He said the NC leadership in Jammu has reposed faith in Farooq Abdullah. “He’s not just the president of NC, he’s the tallest leader of J&K and he has assured us that he will represent the people from all regions — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.”
The Centre’s decision to call all mainstream political leaders for a meeting marks a milestone. While the Delimitation Commission — which met on February 18 this year — has been studying various aspects related to redrawing of Assembly constituencies, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has been working in the background to bring this meeting of Modi with 14 key political leaders to fruition.
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