In the Centre’s first major political outreach since the abrogation of Article 370 and the division of the erstwhile state into two union territories in August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held a crucial meeting with 14 political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir to chalk out the future course of action in the union territory. During the meeting, PM Modi laid special emphasis on 2 main issues – working together to take democracy to grassroots in J&K and cooperation to take all-round development in J&K to all communities & areas.
After the meeting, PM Modi said, “Today’s meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir is an important step in the ongoing efforts towards a developed and progressive J&K, where all-round growth is furthered.”
PM Modi said that the government’s priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. “Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and J&K gets an elected Government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory,” said the PM.
“Our democracy’s biggest strength is the ability to sit across a table and exchange views. I told the leaders of J&K that it is the people, specially the youth who have to provide political leadership to J&K, and ensure their aspirations are duly fulfilled,” he added.
Our democracy’s biggest strength is the ability to sit across a table and exchange views. I told the leaders of J&K that it is the people, specially the youth who have to provide political leadership to J&K, and ensure their aspirations are duly fulfilled. pic.twitter.com/t743b0Su4L
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 24, 2021
Four former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir participated in the meeting with the PM. They are Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Other leaders who participated in the meeting include Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference, CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, J-K Congress head G A Mir, BJP’s Ravinder Raina, Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh, Congress’ Tara Chand, People’s Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and BJP’s Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.
Other key leaders who were present during the meeting was Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Union Minister of State (Ind Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region Dr Jitendra Singh who is an MP from J&K’s Udhampur. P K Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla were in attendance as well.
Prior to the meeting, many political leaders said that restoration of full statehood would be their top demand. Before the commencement of the meeting, Farooq Abdullah said that he will keep his party’s agenda in the meeting and will talk to the media after the meeting.
Mehbooba Mufti had earlier said that if India can talk to the Taliban in Doha, why can’t it talk to Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.
According to reports, the Centre is keen on holding assembly elections in the union territory as early as possible and the Election Commission is also in talks with representatives of different political parties in this regard.
According to the PTI, the meeting seems to be the result of the back-channel talks held with all the parties from the union territory to chart out a roadmap. Today’s meeting comes seven months after the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The PAGD had surged ahead of the BJP and its allies, including the JKAP, by bagging 110 seats out of 280 with the National Conference emerging stronger with 67 seats within the alliance. The BJP was the single largest party with 75 seats.