On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with political leaders from across Jammu and Kashmir. The all-party meet in Delhi was the first high-level interaction between the Centre and the political leadership from the Union Territory since August 2019. While initially slated to last for one-and-a-half hours, the meeting reportedly went on for over three hours.
While there was no set agenda for the meeting, delimitation, statehood and assembly elections were expected to be key issues for discussion. As per updates shared by news agency ANI, the Prime Minister had noted during the meeting that a government run by the bureaucracy was no substitute for one run by public representatives. He reportedly said that he wanted to remove 'Dilli ki Duri as well as Dil Ki Duri'.
"It was definitely an ice breaker. If Delhi was looking south and we were looking north. This meeting brought things in a similar direction. All Jammu and Kashmir leaders heard everyone uninterruptedly in the meeting," explained Congress leader Ghulam Ahmad Mir on Saturday.
While several political leaders who attended the meeting are allied under the Gupkar Declaration, National Conference vice president explained that the leaders had not been called to the meeting as a single unit. "We did not say anything at the meet that is outside agenda of Gupkar Alliance," he explained.
Speaking about the interaction, he said that it was "good". Dubbing it the first step, he said that the parties had put forthe their state of affairs before the Prime Minister.
"As far as Delimitation Commission is concerned, the party has made it very clear - they have authorised Doctor sa'ab (Farooq Abdullah) to take a view as and when necessary. There has been no fresh approach to the National Conference from the Delimitation Commission," said the former Chief Minister a day after the meeting.
"Azad sa'ab (Ghulam Nabi Azad) had spoken on behalf of all of us that we don't accept this timeline -we don't accept delimitation, election, statehood, we want delimitation, statehood & then election. If you want to hold polls, you'll have to restore statehood first," he added.
The Prime Minister told the leaders at the meeting that it is the people, especially the youth who have to provide political leadership to Jammu and Kashmir and ensure their aspirations are duly fulfilled. He also expressed satisfaction at the progress of development projects in Jammu and Kashmir. He urged all the leaders to work together for the progress of Jammu and Kashmir and to realize the aspirations of youth.
A PMO release said there were detailed deliberations on how to give further fillip to the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir In the backdrop of the establishment of a three-tier Panchayati Raj System with the election and constitution of Block and District Development Councils.
The 14-member delegation not only met the prime minister, but also Union Home Minister Amit Shah and senior bureaucrats. The delegation included former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.
Former deputy chief ministers Tara Chand, Nirmal Singh, Kavinder Gupta and Muzzafar Baigh were also present in the Thursday meeting along with veteran CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Congress chief of JK G A Mir, Peoples' Conference chief Sajad Lone, Panther's party chief Bhim Singh and BJP leaders Ravinder Raina and Jammu and Kashmir Apni party chief Altaf Bukhari.