‘Don’t want to leave any space uncontested for BJP’: Mehbooba Mufti says PDP will contest J-K polls

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said that her party will contest the panchayat elections, adding that she “does not want to leave any space uncontested for the BJP.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mufti said: “As far as Mehbooba Mufti is concerned, I have made it amply clear, so many times, that I am not going to be in power politics for quite sometime now.”

Hinting at the possibility of an opposition alliance, Mufti said: “The PAGD has a larger role, which is first and foremost, that we have to act as a resistance against the nefarious designs of the BJP. And to thwart their designs, if we have to come together and fight elections unitedly, why not? I think, ultimately, we will, but till now we haven’t had any discussion on this among ourselves.”

Former J&K chief minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah has already expressed his willingness for the PAGD to fight the polls together. 

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration is a political alliance between several regional political parties in Jammu and Kashmir that have been campaigning for the restoration of special status to the region after Article 370 was abrogated in August 2019.

Mufti also criticised the delimitation exercise in the Valley saying that it was an attempt by the central government to disempower the majority community. 

“The Delimitation Commission is not something that you can separate from what happened on August 5, 2019. It is part of that plan to disempower the majority community… The Delimitation Commission has laid the basis for a political, demographic change… In Jammu, they have scattered the minority vote, be it Muslims or Sikhs, in such way that their vote has lost its significance,” Mufti was quoted by The Indian Express as saying. 

Decks have been cleared for the first-ever Assembly polls in the Union Territory after the final Delimitation Commission report rejected objections of three of the five associate members and Kashmir-based parties on redrawing its constituencies. 

The commission allotted six additional seats to the Jammu region and only one to Kashmir, though the latter has 15 lakh more population. Also, nine constituencies for were reserved for Scheduled Tribes for the first time in J&K’s history. Two nominated Assembly seats for Kashmiri Pandits and some seats for refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir were part of the recommendations of the commission headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai with Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and J&K State Election Commissioner K K Sharma as members.

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