AFTER a gap of several months, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration held its meeting at the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s residence. There was no specific agenda for the meeting, not did the alliance make any statement that could be called out of ordinary. The leaders, however, made it clear that they were committed to the demand for a reversal of the withdrawal of Article 370, saying they will fight for the restoration of the former state’s autonomy through democratic means. They also expressed their readiness for negotiations with the centre. But primarily the grouping’s leaders wanted to be seen as discussing Covid-19. But this hardly detracts from the significance of the PAGD meeting.
Last year, less than six months after the amalgam was formed, it suffered its first jolt when the leader of the People's Conference, (PC) one of its key constituents quit it. It may still be a group of five parties, two of them National Conference (NC) and the PDP, but the PC's exit seems to have taken the sting out of the alliance. It has suddenly appeared vulnerable and shorn of its promise. And all this over an apparent conflict that could have easily been resolved had the leaders deemed it worth their while to sit together and talk. But this apparently was not done, nor sought by the parties. There is no easy answer to the question why it wasn’t done. It looks intriguing why exiting the alliance should have been the first option for the PC unless the party had despaired of chances of the redressal within the alliance.
As for the future, it will be interesting to see how the remaining parties in the PAGD will conduct themselves. With the NC and the PDP still together, the alliance can be a force to reckon with and certain to be a major player in the government formation in future. As for pressing the demand for restoration of Article 370, all that the parties seem capable of doing as of now is to stick together. They have so far shied away from taking their struggle to the streets. There has been no attempt to even symbolically register displeasure about what was done to J&K. And for obvious reasons. Centre has disproportionately raised costs for any show of even a symbolic defiance and this includes forming an alliance too. It remains to be seen how the remaining parties in the PAGD will respond to the costs of staying together.
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