ON Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah termed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) as Gupkar Gang. He said the grouping was getting “foreign forces to intervene” in the issue of scrapping of Article 370, taking away the rights of women and Dalits and bringing back “terror and turmoil” in J&K.The home minister also asked Congress to clarify its position after formally becoming a signatory to Gupkar Declaration.
In response, the PAGD members Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have hit back at Shah for calling them anti-nationals. In her tweets, Mehbooba accused the BJP of double standards saying while “the BJP can stitch as many alliances in its hunger for power” it blamed the Gupkar grouping for diluting national interest by fighting elections. And Omar wrote that “only in J&K can leaders be detained & called anti-national for participating in elections & supporting the democratic process”. Omar also took a dig at the home minister for being upset about the Gupkar grouping’s participation in District Development Council (DDC) elections.
The exchange between the home minister and the Gupkar alliance took place in the context of the ongoing campaign for the DDC polls. Though a district level election shouldn’t normally assume much significance, they are taken much seriously by the BJP.
The DDCs will act as third tier of Panchayati Raj system. The elections to these councils marks the implementation of the entire 73rd Amendment Act in the union territory. However, there is a vital difference between the Panchayat Raj system elsewhere in the country and Kashmir.
The members of the DDCs in J&K will be directly elected from 14 territorial constituencies of the district. And they alone will exercise power in the DDC and can appoint and remove the chairperson and vice chairperson of the council.
Though the members of the Legislative Assembly and the chairperson of all Block Development Councils of the district will also be the DDC members, they will wield no power.
Given the powers the DDCs have been vested with, they have become the kind of mini-assemblies and the PAGD wants to control them to enhance its political clout. So does the BJP. Hence the bitter war of words.
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