SRINAGAR: In the first step to give wings to a new proposed political front in Jammu and Kashmir, eight former legislators on Tuesday met the Union Territory’s lieutenant-governor, Girish Chandra Murmu, in winter capital Jammu to put forth a long list of demands including restoration of its statehood, safeguarding rights over land and jobs and release of political detainees. The delegation was led by former minister Syed Altaf Bukhari who is known to be very close to the corridors of power in Delhi and has been in the forefront of supplementing the government’s covert effort to “encourage” mainstream politicians to rally around the proposed front in prelude to breaking the political stalemate which persists in J&K since August 5 when it was stripped of its special status and split up into two UTs by the Centre.
The enterprise is seen by local watchers also as conscious attempt by those at the helm of power to isolate J&K’s frontline mainstream political parties such as National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which have, so far, remained steadfast in their political outlook and have ruled out joining any political process unless and until J&K’s statehood and special status are restored. Mr Bukhari, a business tycoon-turned-politician, was a year ago expelled from Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for his “anti-party” activities. He had earlier served as a cabinet rank minister in both Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government and following his death in January 2016 that headed by his daughter Mehbooba Mufti.