Has Farooq Abdullah finally brought down curtains on PAGD in J&K?

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference President Farooq Abdullah .(IANS/X/@cpimspeak)

Srinagar, Feb 15 (IANS) Former J&K Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah’s statement on Thursday that his party will not enter into any pre-poll alliance before the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections has far-reaching consequences on J&K’s politics.

The octogenarian leader is a wily old politician, who is known for his political acumen that most of his rivals envy.

Farooq Abdullah is the senior-most politician in J&K and the NC is the oldest political party in the UT. If anyone among the J&K politicians knows that there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics, it is Farooq Abdullah, who has used this strategy in practice.

In the past, the NC has shared power in J&K with both the Congress and the BJP, two extremes of national politics in the country.

NC’s alliance with the Congress dates back to 1975, when NC founder late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah became the Chief Minister with the NC just having one seat in the Legislative Assembly (that of the Sheikh Abdullah himself).

Sheikh Abdullah was made the leader of the House by the majority Congress without the former even joining the Congress.

His father’s example was followed by Farooq Abdullah who used his proximity to the Nehru-Gandhi family and ruled J&K as the Chief Minister four times.

However, once out of power at the Centre, the NC dumped the Congress in J&K.

His son Omar Abdullah was made the Union Minister of State for External affairs in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA government in 2001-2002.

Thus bringing down curtains on alliances and political friendships is nothing new to the NC.

With his categorical announcement on Thursday that the NC will not enter into any pre-poll alliance, either for the Lok Sabha or the Assembly polls, Farooq Abdullah has brought down curtains on the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) in J&K, which he heads.

PAGD was formed on October 20, 2020. Its objective was stated to be the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, plus the restoration of statehood for J&K.

The major constituents of the PAGD are NC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Mehbooba Mufti, CPI-M, and the Awami National Conference (ANC) headed by Farooq Abdullah’s elder sister, Khalida Shah.

All along its existence, the PAGD constituent parties have been claiming their readiness to sacrifice political objectives for the “greater cause of J&K”.

With the NC deciding to go solo in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, has the PAGD reached the end of its road?

The PDP will now have to field candidates against the NC and other parties in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Once the so-called ‘greater cause’ is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency, irrelevance of the PAGD would become obvious.

With the Supreme Court upholding the Parliament’s right to abrogate Article 370, the PAGD suffered a serious ‘heart attack’ and now the NC’s decision to go solo in the elections will lead to a formal burial of this alliance.

There are speculation suggesting that by distancing from any pre-poll alliance, Farooq Abdullah has said a loud ‘No’ to the opposition INDIA bloc.

Can Farooq Abdullah distancing from the INDIA bloc be an olive branch dangling for the NDA? The answer to this question would be known soon.

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