By Sant Kumar Sharma
Six years ago, when popular poster boy of militancy in Kashmir Burhan Wani died, he was mourned by many. Among those who made a big hullabaloo about Wani’s death was late SAS Geelani of the hardline All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). Geelani took care to hold gaibana (loosely translated as ``in absentia’’) prayers for Wani. This has been a ritual many separatists and secessionists performed for terrorists killed by security forces whose bodies were buried in unidentified graves far away from encounter sites.
Something similar was done by Abdullahs, father-son duo of Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, to PAGD on Wednesday. With a major difference in that for writing the epitaph of the PAGD, they did not wait for its formal demise. But virtually, their move means a silent burial of the PAGD, a loose group of five or six Kashmir-based parties.
In PAGD, NC and PDP, as also CPM leader Yusuf Targiami (four time MLA), along with some others, sit together, apparently for taking the agenda of ``restoration of Article 35-A’’ further! Many other things, primarily aimed at reversal of changes that were brought about by the Centre on August 5, 2019, are also on PAGD platter.
Though Omar Abdullah and party patriarch Farooq Abdullah’s names doesn’t figure, a list released by NC names ``Constituency Incharges’’ of all 47 assembly segments of Kashmir valley. This declaration of its candidates for all the segments of Kashmir valley means it will contest alone, without doing any seat adjustments with any other party, or parties. At least in Kashmir province, once considered its unassailable bastion.
This sudden move also means that the NC has given a head-start to its wannabe MLAs to start working right away. The words of party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar are to the point: “As approved by Honb’le President Jammu & Kashmir National Conference Jb. Dr. Farooq Abdullah Sahab, The following are nominated as Constituency Incharges for their respective constituencies. They shall have regular connect with the Public / Party Workers and Office bearers and ensure strengthening of the Party at grass root level.’’
Salman Sagar has been given the charge of Hazratbal while his father, the senior Sagar, has been asked to look after Khanyar, a constituency he represented in the past. Party MP Akbar Lone’s son, Hilal Akbar Lone, has been asked to look after Sonawari in Bandipora district. Dr Sajjad Uri has been given the charge of Uri, a constituency which his father, Shafi Uri, represented earlier.
Justice (retired) Husnain Masoodi, party’s Lok Sabha MP from Anantnag, has also been named in the list. He has been asked to look after Pampore (in Pulwama district) and is the only sitting MP getting nomination as party’s candidate for an assembly seat.
In-charge of Chrar-i-Sharief constituency in Budgam district is former finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather. Till some years ago, it was said that Rather’s son, Hilal Rather, will be his successor and the party’s next nominee from Chrar. However, Hilal suffered considerable disgrace some years ago after he failed to pay back a loan of Rs 160 crores to J&K Bank and was jailed. After coming out of jail, he chose to join Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference (PC). So far, there are no talks of his homecoming (return to NC).
Before his defeat in 2014 assembly elections, Abdul Rahim Rather had a 36-year unbroken record of representing his constituency.
Till late in the evening on Wednesday, no political leader had offered any comments on the NC move. However, it is likely to provide enough talking points to the people and politicians in the coming days.