Amid speculations of major political changes in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre on Saturday extended a formal invitation to leaders of various local political parties to take part in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union government officials on June 24.
While it is unclear as to who will accept the invitation and attend the meeting and who will stay away, 14 leaders of eight political parties have been invited by the Centre, a move which is being considered as the biggest political outreach out by the Union government to the local parties since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
What is on the table?
Many speculations and rumours have been doing the rounds in political circles both in the Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. While a few are speculating that the region might be bifurcated further, others are suggesting that the UT might regain its statehood. However, these are mere speculations and many regional political leaders including National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah have claimed that they have no clue as to what the talks are going to be based on.
However, officials close to the government told PTI that the meeting is expected to bolster the political process in the region and that the possibility of holding Assembly election might be discussed.
Further, the completion of delimitation process in the erstwhile state is also likely to be discussed in the meeting. Sources in the country's security establishment say that it cannot be done without the cooperation of the regional parties. It will also pave the road for holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir which has been under President's rule since October 2019.
Leaders who are likely to take part
Most likely Union home minister Amit Shah will take part in the meeting along with PM Modi.
The other leaders who are invited are-- BJP Jammu and Kashmir unit president Ravinder Raina, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, CPM leader M Y Tarigami, Congress J&K unit chief G A Mir.
So far, the BJP and J&K Apni Party have said they will take part in the meeting. The rest of the political parties are expected to take a decision after deliberating among themselves, later today.
Significance of this meeting
This meeting assumes significance because it is the biggest political outreach by the Centre to the mainstream local leaders who were incarcerated and kept in preventive custody for over a year after the abrogation of Article 370, and downgrading of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories in 2019.
This move is also considered as the first big step towards restoration of electoral democracy in the region.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under Centre's control since Governor’s rule was imposed in the state on June 19, 2018, -- exactly three years ago -- following the collapse of the coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti after the BJP withdrew its support. Jammu and Kashmir has been without assembly since then even though the Supreme Court has mandated a time limit of six months from the dissolution of the house for holding elections. Later, ahead of abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the President of India imposed the central rule under section 73 of the J&K Reorganisation Act leaving power vested in the Lieutenant Governor.
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