Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday attacked the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), calling it an "unholy global alliance" and "Gupkar Gang" that along with the Congress wants to return to the era of terror and turmoil. Other BJP leaders also targeted the Farooq Abdullah-led political grouping on the cue from the former BJP president.
The PAGD is an alliance of several regional parties that include PDP, National Conference (NC), Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) and the Awami National Conference (ANC). The alliance is contesting the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir together.
While the NC may have been the target of the BJP over PAGD, the two parties are sharing power in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil (LAHDCK). The NC and BJP contested the Kargil Hill Council elections in 2018 separately but joined hands later to rule after no party secured the mandate.
According to an Indian Express report, NC has 10 seats among 26 elected members of LAHDCK, Congress has eight, BJP three and five are independents. Four members are nominated by the Ladakh Union Territory administration to the 30-member LAHDCK.
After the 2018 elections, the National Conference (NC) allied with the Congress but they had a falling out after the Lok Sabha polls. The NC then entered into a coalition with two PDP councillors and four Independents. As both PDP councillors later joined the BJP, the NC continued the alliance with the councillors.
While NC’s Feroz Khan is the Chairman/Chief Executive Councillor of LAHDCK, BJP’s Mohammad Ali Chandan is one of the four other Executive Councillors and has the portfolios of Health, Revenue, Agriculture, Forests, Wildlife, Industrial Training Institute, and Soil Conservation, the report said.
BJP’s MP from Ladakh and president of the party’s Ladakh unit, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, said the saffron party is openly in alliance with the National Conference and will remain so as “Kashmir NC” has nothing to do with that party’s unit in Kargil.
"BJP coalition mein hai. Khul ke hai, aagey bhi full-fledged rahengey (BJP is in a coalition. We are in it openly, and will be a full-fledged part of it in future as well)," he was quoted as saying by the daily.
On "Kashmir NC" being different from "Kargil NC", he said, "There (in J&K) they want to make J&K a state and get back Article 370, but it is not the case here. Ladakh is against Article 370."
Feroz Khan, however, disagreed, saying that Kargil NC is part of the party headed by Farooq Abdullah. "Although Ladakh has become a separate UT, our parent organisation remains the same, and Farooq Abdullah is our leader," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Shah described the PAGD as the "Gupkar Gang" that is going global and wants foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Congress and the Gupkar Gang want to take JK back to the era of terror and turmoil. They want to take away rights of Dalits, women and tribals that we have ensured by removing Article 370. This is why they're being rejected by the people everywhere," he said in a series of tweets.
Shah's comments came ahead of the first phase of District Development Council elections on November 28, the first political exercise since the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 on August 5 last year and bifurcated the state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The Congress and the PAGD have a seat sharing arrangement in some places.
On August 4, 2019, a day before the central government announced the abrogation of Article 370, political parties in Kashmir, except the BJP, met at the residence of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah at Gupkar Road in Srinagar and adopted a declaration to defend Article 370.
Besides the PDP and the NC, the alliance also comprises the CPI-M, People's Conference, Awami National Conference, the CPI and the People's Movement, which was formed by IAS officer Shah Faesal, who has since resigned from the party.
More than a year later, in October, the political leaders who had been detained for several months met again and resolved to fight legally and democratically for restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
In November, the seven-party amalgam announced they would contest the local body elections together. The Congress also expressed its willingness for seat sharing arrangement in some districts.
National Conference's Farooq Abdullah is PAGD president and Mehbooba its vice president. Veteran CPI-M leader M Y Tarigami is the convenor while People's Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone is spokesperson.
(With PTI inputs)