No option but to talk to Centre: J&K leaders

No option but to talk to Centre: J&K leaders

A section of the leaders rued that they did not get any concrete assurances from the PM over the concerns

PM Modi and political leaders from J&K at the all-party meeting. Credit: Twitter Photo/@PMOIndia

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting, leaders from J&K said they had no option but to join the talks as it was the Centre that could offer any solution to their problems.

A section of the leaders rued that they did not get any concrete assurances from the Prime Minister over the “concerns, demands and aspirations” voiced during the three-and-a-half hour meeting on Thursday afternoon.

“If there is any power which can affect the change in J&K, it is this government. There is no other option than to talk to the Center,” People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone, who served as minister in the PDP-BJP government, told DH.

Most of the J&K leaders were placed under house arrest for months together since the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two union territories on August 5, 2019.

Also read: No smiles in Kashmir after politicians' meet with PM Modi in Delhi

However, all the leaders attended the meeting called by the Prime Minister without any rancour.

“First of all it was the Prime Minister who had called for a meeting. You have to give respect to the office of the Prime Minister,” PDP President and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said, adding that perhaps the prime minister had sensed the anger among the people in J&K and decided to reach out to those who believe in the middle ground.

The leaders, however, had divergent views on holding of elections. While Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad favoured restoration of statehood followed by elections, Mufti wanted the Centre to take some confidence building measures before going for polls.

Senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said though Mufti made a demand for restoration of Article 370, she had also accepted the reality that this government was not ready to accede to the demand.

“She referred to BJP’s 70-year agenda of scrapping Article 370 and said her party would continue to fight for its restoration,” Gupta told DH.

Senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh said it was not the right time to speak about restoration of statehood as the Prime Minister has assured on the floor of Parliament and even on Thursday that it would happen at an appropriate time.

Also read: PM's meeting with J&K leaders 'positive' step; Centre must restore statehood before assembly polls: Karan Singh

Singh termed as a positive development on the agreement to allow the delimitation process to be completed before calling for elections.

CPI (M) senior leader and Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration spokesperson, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said the J&K leaders they did not get any concrete assurances from the Centre over their “concerns, demands and aspirations''.

Lone said the BJP has a very strong ideological agenda and “we have to be realistic at what they can deliver.”

Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari expressed gratitude to the Centre for initiating a dialogue with the political leaders of J&K.

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