By Zaffar Iqbal
Srinagar, March 19 (IANS) Is Farooq Abdullah planning to form a coalition of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir to pressurise the Centre over its Article 370 move and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UT).
What sparked this speculation, is the National Conference leader’s visit to former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s residence — Fair View — at Gupkar Road in Srinagar where he met her mother, daughter and others.
The visit the first by Farooq after his release on March 12, was “a courtesy call”, family sources of Mehbooba said.
What has reinforced the feeling of an NC-led coalition is the visit of a Congress delegation to Farooq’s residence on Wednesday.
After his release, the three-time chief minister and sitting MP, has made some right noises. He has appealed to the Centre to shift back all J&K residents detained in jails outside Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, pending their release .
He has also called for releasing all the detainees, including his son Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and appealed to all the political parties to work jointly for the release of all detainees.
“I appeal to all political leaders in the state to unite behind this call to the union government to bring back all detainees from J&K from prisons outside the state pending there release.
“While we would like to see them all released as soon as possible, pending that they would be shifted to J&K. This is a humanitarian demand and I hope others will join me in placing this demand in front of the government of India,” he said in a statement after his release.
Both the Peoples Democratic Party and the NC have been vehemently opposing the abrogation of Article 370 and warned of consequences including possible agitation by the people.
A day before Article 370 was revoked, NC president Farooq Abdullah, who is the senior most political leader in Jammu and Kashmir, had presided over a meeting of all parties in Kashmir and adopted a declaration- ‘Gupkar Declaration’- that cautioned the BJP that they will not accept any tinkering with Article 370.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was the first top ranking leader to meet Farooq after his release and said the restoration of democracy is foremost for starting a political process in Jammu and Kashmir.
So far the BJP seemed unruffled by the scenes new developments in Kashmir after Farooq’s release.
The party seems satisfied with the formation of Apni Party, a new political party by former PDP leader and minister Altaf Bukhari.
The BJP, which is backing Apni Party, hope the party will act as a huge against the NC and any possible coalition against it .
It remains to be seen whether a coalition of all political parties with the NC in lead takes shape.
Such a coalition, however, would pose a serious threat to the BJP when Jammu and Kashmir goes to polls after the delimitation is completed by March next year.