Srinagar, Jan 19: Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference headed by Sajjad Gani Lone pulled out of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Tuesday over the fielding of proxies in recently conducted DDC elections. However, the party said it will continue to adhere to the objectives for which the alliance was made. With J&KPC pulling out, the PAGD would now comprise of six parties including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party.
The decision to pull out from the PAGD was conveyed by the party through its chairman Sajjad Gani Lone, who also happens to be the spokesman of the alliance, formed last year to fight for the restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A, effectively abrogated by the ruling BJP government on 5 August 2019 amid massive security and communication clampdown that even saw the snapping of landline telephony.
In his letter to PAGD’s president Farooq Abdullah, Lone has said that “there has been a breach of trust between partners which we believe is beyond remedy.”
“I am writing to you in reference to the recently held DDC elections and a spate of statements issued by leaders belonging to our party. The recurring theme of the statements was the fielding of proxy candidates by constituent parties against the officially mandated candidates of the PAGD,” Lone says in the letter, circulated by the party to media, a copy of which lies with GNS.
“We convened a meeting of our leaders yesterday and deliberated on the issue in detail. The predominant feeling in the meeting was that the PAGD sentiment at top was not emulated on the ground. It was felt that the results of a sincere alliance should have meant that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”,” the letter reads, adding, “Instead, “the whole was not greater than the sum of parts, sadly not even equal to the sum of parts, but much lesser and equal to just one part of the many parts.” If you remove the inverted commas, the sad reality that emerges is that in majority of the places the party fielding the candidate on behalf of PAGD was left to fend for itself and secured the votes that his party managed. In most places other parties were silent bystanders or worst compounded the problem by fielding proxy candidates.”
DDC elections, Lone said, per se may not matter institutionally. “But these elections were distinctive by virtue of the timing. Firstly, the context of these DDC elections was politically very important. It was the first election post August 5. And secondly it was a combined show of strength of a majority of the J & K political mainstream.” It was less of an election more of an opportunity to send a strong unanimous political message, Lone said.
“On the face of it, PAGD won these elections unambiguously having won the maximum number of seats. We can’t hide statistics and apart from the number of seats that PAGD won, other important statistical variable in the context of August 5 is the number of votes polled against the PAGD,” Lone said, adding, “We believe that 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. This is certainly not the vote share that people of J and K deserved post August 5.”
Lone said here in Srinagar where the part held apex body meetings, “we look at the statistics but out there on the ground people look at our actions and our intentions.”
“They are eye witnesses to our actions. They are the actors in the political theatre scripted by us. And we think that people don’t know what we were up to. People know that blinded by political greed we fielded candidates against each other and the question they are asking, if we can’t trust the PAGD leadership on something as basic as a DDC seat how can we trust them for larger issues,” Lone said, adding, “We might have inflicted irreversible damage on to ourselves and on to the very people that we are supposed to represent. Trust between allying partners who have been rivals all along can be very elusive and extremely fragile. proxies have made it perpetually elusive.”
This alliance, Lone said, needed sacrifice. “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.”
Lone said it is difficult for us to stay on and pretend as if nothing has happened. “There has been a breach of trust between partners which we believe is beyond remedy. The majoritarian view in our party is that we should pull out of the alliance in an amicable manner rather than waiting for things to get messier,” Lone said and announced that “we will no longer be a part of the PAGD alliance.”
“I would however want to add that we are divorcing from the alliance not its objectives. We will continue to adhere to the objectives that we set out when this alliance was made. And the PAGD leadership should be assured that we will extend support on all issues which fall within the ambit of stated objectives,” he said, adding, “We have issued clear instructions to all party leaders not to issue any statements against PAGD alliance or its leaders.”