In a significant political development, senior politician and former legislator Nizamuddin Bhat is set to return to Peoples Conference (PC) after three decades and he will be welcomed by the party president Sajad Lone during a press conference today afternoon.
Bhat, a two-time lawmaker, will rejoin the party today in presence of its president and top party leaders. Bhat’s homecoming is seen as an emotional reunion for the party, as he had been associated with the party at the nascent stage, when Lone’s father was gaining strength in north Kashmir.
A senior close aide of Bhat said that Lone was in school when Bhat had emerged as the firebrand district president of Baramulla, which comprised the entire north Kashmir parliamentary seat.
“He was instrumental in organising the Peoples’ Conference in the 1970s and 1980s and was a key aide to Abdul Ghani Lone,” said the aide.
Bhat started his political career from PC under the leadership of late Abdul Ghani Lone. He fought 1983 and 1987 election on PC ticket from Bandipora and lost the 1987 election, which is widely believed to be rigged, by a narrow margin to the National Conference.
During his years in the PC, Bhat laid down a network of organisational units for the party and would go along with Lone’s father to strengthen the party. But later, he quit politics and worked as a journalist for the next 15 years.
After armed conflict broke out in Kashmir in 1989, Bhat distanced himself from politics and started working for different national and international media outlets. He worked as bureau chief of ETV and The Islamic Republic News Agency or IRNA.
In 2003-04, Bhat returned to politics and joined PDP when PC was not part of electoral politics. He fought the 2008 assembly election and defeated Usman Majeed.
“The Peoples’ Conference had quit electoral politics,” said a party worker, so Bhat joined the PDP. “He is returning to the Peoples’ Conference when the party is growing exponentially and emerging as one of the big parties in the Kashmir region under the leadership of Sajad Lone,” the worker said.
“Even after joining PDP, Bhat maintained close social relations with the Lone family over the years. “Bhat is likely to play a pivotal role in decision- making in the PC,” said sources, quoted by the Kashmir News Observer.
“It will be easy for Bhat to navigate the leadership change from one generation to another given that he knew Sajad Lone as a child. After 5th August, they spent many months in detention. They built an ironclad bond and a loving relationship,” a political leader, detained alongside Bhat and Lone at SKICC and MLA hostel revealed.
“For us, the cruelty of BJP appears easy to handle because we witnessed the unbridled tyranny of the National Conference during 1983 and 1987. Our leaders and workers were arrested and thrown in jails in Udhampur, Kathua and Reasi. I was jailed under PSA for many months for the crime of being a rival of the National Conference,” said a PC worker, who had been jailed.
“Bhat is a part of the class of leaders who struggled against the NC,” he added. “Bhat lost in 1983 and 1987 narrowly. The NC, along with Congress, rigged both the elections. Today he will return to the PC. It is ironic because today, the same NC against which he and [Abdul Ghani] Lone struggled is desperate to seek a moral high ground in Kashmir politics.”
In the DDC elections held in December 2020, Bhat ensured victory of two candidates fielded by him and also helped allies to win seats in Bandipora. (With inputs from KNO)