Srinagar: National Conference (NC) president and sitting MP from Srinagar Dr Farooq Abdullah has surprised many of his friends in Delhi by deciding to launch a joint struggle with five other political parties, including PDP, for the restoration of Article 370 and has delinked politics from the elections.
Though his son Omar Abdullah is not in favour of any confrontation with the Centre, he was silenced by the party cadre and senior leaders who cautioned Farooq Abdullah that if the party goes by Omar Abdullah’s formula to participate in elections, the National Conference would get a drubbing of a lifetime in such elections. Omar Abdullah has fears that the BJP government at the Centre will go for elections without them and thinks that they may all be jailed again, his party colleagues told this reporter.
Farooq Abdullah has recently said that his struggle is not against the Government of India, but limited to getting back what all had been snatched from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He also distanced himself from any violent struggle and said, “Struggle would be Gandhian, as we never believed in stones and bullets”, and also announced that he would raise the issue of reversing everything that was done on 5 August, in the coming session inside Parliament.
Farooq Abdullah has been in touch with his party leaders in Jammu and Ladakh regions and the National Conference, while demanding back statehood, is looking for voices and struggle to bring back the Ladakh region into the fold of the J&K state. Already, the Centre has carved out Ladakh as a separate Union Territory without legislature; the NC wants to use it as a bargaining chip in the coming months. Inside circles of the National Conference said that Farooq Abdullah knows that the Modi government will not reverse its decision on Article 370, but think that the court will give them relief on this issue. Most of the political parties in Kashmir have little faith in the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of Parliament and want to intensify public protests for restoration rather than waiting for the court. The National Conference, PDP and other political forces in Kashmir valley want to give their resistance some shape in the coming weeks as they expect the release of Mehbooba Mufti very soon.
Meanwhile, the PDP has started its politics on the streets of Kashmir as on Thursday, they brought out a protest demanding release of political prisoners and youths lodged in different jails, and raised the issues of human rights violations and gag on media etc. Many of the PDP activists were detained by police, but in the coming days, more mainstream political parties may come on the streets if they feel that the Central government will allow them to have such protests. Though National Conference workers recently told their leadership that it was essential for the party to bring out protest demonstrations to remain relevant on the ground, Omar Abdullah reportedly opposed such a move and said that such protests can become violent and he will not like to be part of any such exercise.