The all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24 is a major step towards the restoration of Jammu & Kashmir’s statehood, a report said on June 20. Among those invited for the meeting include former J&K chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The CNN-News 18 report, which cited official sources, claimed that Modi would be discussing the roadmap for restoring J&K’s statehood with the representatives of all political parties to be present at the meeting.
Discussions, however, have been ruled out on restoring Article 370 – the now-abrogated law which granted J&K special status. The law was struck down on August 5, 2019, and the erstwhile state was bifurcated into the two union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The status of Ladakh as a union territory will remain unchanged, the report said.
J&K’s main regional parties, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), along with some of the smaller outfits, had last year formed an amalgam – the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) – which seeks the restoration of Article 370.
The PAGD leaders have, however, indicated that they may hold talks with the Centre even if the discussion on Article 370 is not on the charts for now.
A formal decision to attend the June 24 meeting was yet to be announced by the NC and PDP leadership. A party meeting was called by Mehbooba Mufti, the PDP chief, earlier in the day to finalise their response to the Centre’s invite.
“Mehbooba ji has not decided to boycott the meeting. We are for a political process but it’s a collective fight and hence we will all meet to decide who all should represent us in the meeting and convey the aspirations of the people,” a senior PAGD leader told CNN-News 18.
The NC leadership is also expected to issue a final call by June 21 on whether Farooq Abdullah would be attending the meeting called by the prime minister.
“NC president Farooq Abdullah will discuss this with his senior colleagues. I think discussions will complete by tomorrow. I think we’ll able to tell you more by tomorrow afternoon,” party leader Nasir Aslam Wani told news agency ANI.
The blueprint for restoring J&K’s statehood, which Modi is expected to share at the all-party meeting, would likely revolve around the delimitation exercise. A report which would be submitted by the delimitation commission, set up last year, is awaited.
The delimitation process could determine the future of talks as the NC and PDP had earlier marked their apprehensions against a possible move to steeply increase Jammu’s share in terms of assembly constituencies.
The parties in Jammu, where the BJP is on strong political grounds, have long been demanding a delimitation exercise to increase their share in the legislative assembly.
Till 2014, when the last assembly polls were held in the erstwhile J&K state, the Jammu region accounted for 37 seats in the legislative assembly, whereas Kashmir Valley accounted for 46 of the 87 constituencies.