Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference on Tuesday parted ways with the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an alliance of mainstream regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir, opposed to the Centre’s August 2019 changes in the region. Lone was the official spokesperson of the Gupkar Alliance.
Lone announced the decision in a letter to the coalition, in which he accused the alliance parties, which includes National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, of fielding proxy candidates despite a common minimum program devised for the recently held District Development Council elections.
“This alliance needed sacrifice,” he said in his letter. “Every party had to sacrifice on the ground in terms of giving space to fellow allies. No party is willing to cede space, no party is willing to sacrifice. We fought against each other in Kashmir province not against the perpetrators of August 5. And those who perpetrated August 5 and their minions are now vocally gleeful.”
A tie-up of six parties, the Gupkar Alliance was formed in October with the objective of reinstating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, which was abrogated by the Narendra Modi government on August 5. The alliance swept the DDC elections by winning 110 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats.
“On the face of it, PAGD [People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration] won these elections unambiguously having won the maximum number of seats,” Lone said. But “the votes polled against the PAGD are majorly the votes cast by proxies of PAGD constituent parties against official PAGD candidates. And the net outcome of selectively voting for and against PAGD is a very poor vote share.”
Lone said that it was difficult for his party to stay on and pretend as if nothing has happened. This was not the vote share the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserved after the revocation of Article 370, he added.
“There has been a breach of trust between partners which we believe is beyond remedy,” the People’s Conference leader wrote. “The majoritarian view in our party is the we should pull out of the alliance in an amicable manner rather than waiting for things to get messier. And I am confirming that we will no longer be a part of the PAGD alliance.”
He further said that he would, however, continue to fight for the alliance’s objectives. “We will continue to adhere to the objectives that we set out when this alliance was made,” Lone’s letter read. “And the PAGD leadership should be assured that we will extend support on all issues which fall within the ambit of stated objectives. We have issued clear instructions to all party leaders not to issue any statements against PAGD alliance or its leaders.”