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Amid Breakup Talks, Farooq Gives Mehbooba Mufti Free Hand to Share Alliance Seats | India News

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SRINAGAR: The recently formed Popular Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) authorized PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday to choose which seats her party would like to contest in the first District Development Council elections at J&K, ending speculation about discord among non-BJP caucus constituents over the allocation of seats.
A senior PAGD official said President Farooq Abdullah initiated the move by personally calling Mehbooba to join a meeting convened by him amid talks of resentment between alliance partners over the National Conference grabbing most of the 22 seats. for the first phase of the elections on November 28. The former CM appointed the general secretary of the PDP, GN Lone Hanjura, to represent her at the meeting at Farooq’s residence.
On Sunday night, the alliance announced that NC and PDP would contest eight seats each of the 27 that will go to the polls in the second phase. Three seats have been awarded to Congress and the Sajad Lone Peoples Conference four.
While Mehbooba has yet to comment on the share of shared seats, PDP veteran Muzaffar Hussian Beig and some of his colleagues have made no secret of their disappointment that NC left only four seats to their party for the first phase of the elections. Beig threatening to resign over Mehbooba’s silence on the issue forced the hands of the alliance leaders, sources said.
The Peoples’ Conference, another key component of the eight-party alliance, will contest just two seats in the first phase. The CPM is said to be unhappy with the granting of the Pombay Kulgam post to PDP for the second phase of voting.
Farooq refuted allegations of cracks in the alliance, saying that all constituencies were in sync with and committed to the larger goal of fighting for the restoration of J & K’s special status. “Everything is fine with the People’s Alliance,” he said after giving Mehbooba carte blanche on the allocation of seats for the remaining seven phases of the polls.
Hanjura echoed the NC boss and former CM. “It is not important for us to share seats at the DDC polls. We are fighting for a greater cause. Our fight is to restore Kashmir’s status prior to August 5, 2019.”
PCC Chairman Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who was at Farooq’s residence on Sunday, reiterated Congress’s commitment to the PAGD, which many had doubted until the party participated in its first alliance meeting last week.
To allay fears that the alliance could disintegrate the allocation of seats, Mir appealed to J&K voters to come out and cast their votes in the inaugural DDC elections and “give an adequate response to the BJP.”
The Gupkar alliance was started by NC in October, just days after Mehbooba was released from 14 months in detention, most of it under the Public Safety Act.
In Rajouri, J&K BJP general secretary and former MLC Vibodh Gupta described PAGD as “a sinking ship.”
“The PAGD is trying to spread riots rather than development and employment,” he said at a party rally.
(With input from Sanjay Khajuria in Jammu)

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