NEW DELHI: The visit to Jammu and Kashmir by Amit Shah recently had created a buzz among political observers that the Assembly elections in the Union Territory might be on the cards. In view of the Assembly elections expected to be held next year, political leaders cutting across party lines in the Union Territory anticipate that the political parties that are part of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) would possibly contest the elections separately. Kashmir-based political analysts said that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mehbooba Mufti has lost support of its voters after the party joined hands with the BJP to form the government in 2014 in Kashmir and any alliance with them could diminish electoral prospects of other parties. An ex-MLA from PDP, however, said, “The PDP has its own voter base intact and they will not go anywhere.” Also, sometime back, the National Conference had convened a meeting in which all the party leaders had unanimously agreed on the idea of contesting the Assembly elections separately. But, party leaders deny any decision having been taken on the matter. It was agreed that the party chief will decide about it when the elections come close. An Apni Party (led by Altaf Bukhari) leader said, the NC’s wish to contest elections separately has exposed a chink in the alliance, implying that there could be no political alliance between the major PAGD partners (PDP and NC).
It is also to be noted, a PADG leader said, that the parties had come together for political alliance and not electoral alliance. The alliance or no-alliance, the leaders said, will be decided when the election dates are announced. He further added that there has been a meeting recently, but the “elections were not on our agenda, so there have been no talks about it of late”.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarrigami, spokesperson of the PAGD, said, “Right now, the government has not recommended anything to the Election Commission and neither has the Election Commission announced any date. There are just rumours that elections will happen or they will not happen and thus to talk about the alliance or no alliance for the Assembly elections has not been on our agenda yet.” He added, “When Amit Shah came here, he said that we have conducted panchayat polls. We want to ask him when you go to Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, why don’t you say that you have conducted panchayat elections here? Why are you conducting Assembly polls there? Why do you not conduct Assembly polls here in Kashmir the same way you are having it in other states?”