Apni Party-led new advisory council likely in J&KUpdated: May 27, 2020 00:08 IST
Speculations are rife in Jammu and Kashmir about the Centre setting up an advisory council led by Altaf Bukhari in early June as an alternative political front.
Apni Party leaders, however, said they discussed the matter last at the March meeting of the party leadership with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah to test political waters before Covid-19 struck. It’s not clear whether it is going to take shape or not.
The top leaders of Apni Party, including Altaf Bukhari, are silent on the new advisory council, but the leaders who met both the Prime Minister and home minister in New Delhi in March said that the prospect of an interim government was discussed at the time.
Political activities came to standstill after a lockdown was enforced across the country, including J&K, to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid19).
A senior Apni Party leader and former legislator who was part of the delegation that met Modi and Shah in March confirmed that the prospect of setting up an interim government in J&K before the elections was discussed. “This could be on the table as an option in New Delhi, but council members taking an oath in the first week of June is just a rumour,’’ the former PDP leader said, adding that New Delhi now feels that bureaucrats have failed miserably in J&K and that an advisory council led by a senior politician could help remedy the situation. “This time, there is a political vacuum in J&K and many leaders in New Delhi think that new leadership could act as a buffer between J&K and New Delhi, as Delhi is being blamed for everything wrong in Kashmir and there is visible anger on ground,’’ he said.
Another former legislator who resigned from the Congress and joined the Altaf Bukhari-led Apni Party said that it was ambiguous whether the interim setup discussed between the Apni Party leadership and New Delhi had been cleared by the Centre, as everyone was now busy fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. He, however, added that speculations could be true. “Under the Union Territory (UT) model of Pondicherry, the President of India has powers to appoint a council which can function in a UT. That can be the case for our UT as well.’’
BJP state spokesman Altaf Thakur termed this a mere rumour spread by politicians. “There is no provision in the constitution which allows the setting up of any advisory council in the UT,’’ he said, adding that those who are being tipped to be part of the new ‘advisory council’ have themselves denied it.
J&K Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said that BJP government had taken several unconstitutional and undemocratic steps in the last one year and bifurcated the state into small pieces. “We can expect anything from them, but the 12.5 million people of J&K have not endorsed that decision and won’t endorse this as well.’’