Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said that the six parties, which signed the Gupkar declaration last year, have planned to present a united front, setting aside their different political ideologies, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday.
“We have different political ideologies, but for the time being, these have been set aside for a larger goal,” Omar Abdullah told the newspaper in an interview jointly with his father and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah. “We wanted to send a wider message to New Delhi that on this question of what happened on August 5, like-minded parties will come together.”
Under the Gupkar declaration, regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it. On August 22, the six parties reaffirmed their commitment to the declaration and vowed to fight unitedly against the Centre’s decision to alter the region’s status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
Omar Abdullah clarified that the conglomerate did not necessarily mean there was a pre-electoral understanding. “There is no possibility of an election in J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] before 2021,” he said. “Thankfully, the government of India has willy-nilly given us this breathing space to work together on the Gupkar Declaration, which is not an announcement of pre-electoral understanding.” He added that any decision to contest the elections would depend on the party and the political situation.
On being asked how he intended to take the Gupkar Declaration forward, Omar Abdullah said they would peacefully protest like Mahatma Gandhi. “Whatever action we take will be joint,” he said. “It won’t be only of Farooq Abdullah or the National Conference.”
Farooq Abdullah said that he does not wish to be a “bridge” between New Delhi and Srinagar anymore. He was referring to Kashmiri political parties, especially the National Conference, which are generally considered to act like a bridge between the erstwhile state and the Union government.
However, Omar Abdullah added: “If by bridge you mean that we will allow them to bring their voices and propagate it here, that’s not a bridge. If by bridge you mean that you will allow us to take the voices of J&K and Ladakh and propagate it there, it is fine. Enforced communication will not work.”
The senior Abdullah also refuted any chances of there being a meeting ground between the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir and the Centre. He said that if the Centre wanted to rebuild trust, it needed to reverse the abrogation of special status under Article 370. “That will be the starting point,” he said. “It is not that people will suddenly feel happy. No. A lot more will have to be done.” He, however, added that he did not expect it to happen.
On August 24, Farooq Abdullah had criticised the Centre for revoking the special status and said that New Delhi does not believe in the Constitution. On the Gupkar Declaration, Abdullah had said all the parties who are a part of the formation will start campaigning soon and fight for the rights of the people.
Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – were put under house arrest before the August 5, 2019, decision. Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 as the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13 but Mufti remains in detention. Lone was formally released on July 31.