Farooq Abdullah begins deliberations in NC over Centre’s invite for talks; restore statehood, demands Congress

PM’s meeting with all political parties from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 is part of Centre’s initiatives to bolster political processes, including holding assembly elections in the Union Territory

NC leader and former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah (File photo)
NC leader and former JK CM Farooq Abdullah (File photo)

NH Web Desk

National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Sunday started the process of consultations with senior leaders of the party over the invitation for talks from the Centre to mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir.

Former chief minister Abdullah met senior leaders of the party, including NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and provincial president of Kashmir Nasir Aslam Wani, a party leader said.

He said the others who attended meeting were Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, Mian Altaf, Mubarak Gul, Sakina Itoo, Khalid Najeeb Suhurwardy and two Members of Parliament Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi.

The party leader said Abdullah had called the leaders for consultations over the issue of the invitation for the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24.

The consultations are on. After the party president is done talking to party leaders, a meeting of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) will take place where the member parties will discuss the issue and take a collective decision, he said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the NC's Kashmir provincial president Wani said the process of deliberations over the Centre's invite has been started by Abdullah.

The party president has started the process of consultations with the senior party leaders and these meetings will continue till tomorrow. The consultations with few senior leaders took place today, he (Abdullah) will meet few more in the evening and some tomorrow morning. I think, we will be able to give a clear picture to you by tomorrow, he said.

Wani, however, said the NC has not so far called any structured or organised meeting to take a decision over the issue.

The party leader also said he does not know if and when the PAGD will meet, but if it does, the issue may be discussed there .

The PM's meeting with all political parties from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 is part of the Centre's initiatives to bolster political processes, including holding assembly elections in the Union Territory.

The meeting is about the delimitation exercise, which has started in the new Union Territory ahead of the assembly elections, NDTV quoted sources as saying, who brushed off speculation about a restoration of statehood.

Invitations were sent out to 14 political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including four former chief ministers, for participation in a high-level meeting to be chaired by the PM, which is expected to set the road map for holding assembly elections in the UT.

The invited leaders of eight political parties -- the NC, PDP, BJP, Congress, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, CPI(M), People's Conference, and the Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party -- were telephonically invited by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla for participation in the meeting to be held at the prime minister's residence at 3 pm on Thursday, June 24.

This will be the prime minister's first interaction with all the political parties of Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, 2019 when the Central government abrogated the state's special status and bifurcated it into UTs. The erstwhile state has been under the Centre's rule since June 2018.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Sunday said the Centre should accept the demand for restoration of statehood to J-K in the interest of the Constitution and democracy.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, did not say whether the party will participate in the June 24 meeting or not.

Surjewala drew attention to the August 6, 2019 resolution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) where the party clearly demanded the restoration of full statehood for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

"We believe that undoing it is a direct attack on democracy and the constitutional principles," he told reporters when asked about the issue.

Surjewala said the Congress believes that grant of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir as also holding elections, so that people can elect their representatives and have an assembly of their own to carry on the affairs of the state instead of a rule by Delhi, is the only way forward to guarantee full restoration of democratic rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

"It is now for the prime minister and the BJP to decide whether to hold a meeting or to accept the demand of the Indian National Congress in the interest of constitution, democracy and the people to restore full statehood to the state of Jammu and Kashmir," Surjewala said.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published: 20 Jun 2021, 6:49 PM