Political push: Centre to hold talks with J&K parties

New Delhi, Jun 19:

The Centre is likely to hold a meeting with all regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 as part of its initiatives to bolster political processes, including holding assembly elections, in the union territory, officials said here on Friday.

The meeting is likely to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders.

The central leadership has begun the process of inviting National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah, PDP chairperson Mehbooba Mufti, Altaf Bukhari of the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP), and People’s Conference head Sajjad Lone for discussions, the officials said.

Both Abdullah and Mehbooba had served as chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mehbooba told PTI Friday night that she had received a call from the Centre for a meeting on June 24. “I am yet to take a decision. I will discuss with my party members and take a final call,” she said.

It will be the first such meeting since the Centre announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into union territories in August 2019.

Asked about the prospect of talks with the Centre, CPI(M) leader and spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) M Y Tarigami said there has been no word from New Delhi, but added that if it happens, it would be welcomed.

“We have never closed our doors for meaningful engagement with the Centre. Though I have no information about any dialogue, if it happens, it will be welcomed,” Tarigami told PTI from Srinagar.

The PAGD is an alliance of some parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the NC and the PDP, that was formed in the aftermath of the Centre’s August 2019 decisions.

JKAP president Bukhari said, “I welcome, if and when, the talks take place. This vindicates our position of March 2020 when we had made it clear that dialogue is the only mechanism to restore democracy and statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.” “Better late than never as the solution to all our problems lies with New Delhi and nowhere else,” he added.

The Jammu and Kashmir units of the BJP and the Congress are also likely to be part of these discussions, which are being seen as part of efforts to strengthen normal political processes in the union territory.

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