Mehbooba Mufti emerges as voice of People’s Alliance as others silent

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The former chief minister and the People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti has emerged as the most vocal face of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) as other top members assumed silence.

The PAGD was formed in October 2020 and Mufti was appointed its vice-president while the National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and the People’s Conference Sajad Lone were appointed its head and spokesperson respectively.

Since the formation of the alliance, Mufti has held at least three press conferences — as the PDP’s President and not as the PAGD’s representative, her party’s office-bearers insist — castigating New Delhi, reiterating the importance of unionist’s unity, and the restoration of J-K’s limited-autonomy.

The alliance’s head Farooq Abdullah, the NC’s president and three-time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has also stayed away from the press. The NC’s Omar Abdullah last held a press conference in December 2020 to allege intimidation and coercion of his party’s victorious candidates in the DDC elections.

The alliance’s official spokesperson, the PC’s Lone, hasn’t held a single press conference since the alliance’s formation or entertained the local press to pose questions to him about the alliance and the current political situation. Lone didn’t respond to calls from The Kashmir Walla.

Otherwise active on social media, Lone has also maintained a relatively low profile online — shying away from openly criticising New Delhi or the BJP, on whose quota he was given a ministerial berth in the last state government before the abrogation.

In absence of others, Mufti is now also defending the PAGD’s existence in the face of criticism from rivals. “The purpose of this grand alliance is not for petty electoral gains,” she said on Twitter this week.

“It exists for a much larger cause & purpose i.e to restore J&Ks special status”, she said and added that the “baseless theories are being deliberately floated to discredit PAGD amongst masses since they overwhelmingly voted for us in the DDC elections. “Regardless of who fought how many seats, our purpose to deny BJP & its proxies democratic space has been achieved.”

Mufti’s latest comments have come after reports of resentment within the Sajad Lone led People’s Conference, over the alleged disregard of the seat-sharing plan during the recently concluded District Development Council elections.

In her tweets, Mufti said that New Delhi was “deeply rattled” by the PAGD’s electoral gains and expected “this false campaign to intensify in the coming days. Many PDP leaders are already arrested & I expect the situation to worsen. But this will not break our resolve to stand united & fight for whats rightfully ours.”

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