The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which was formed by a coalition of seven parties last month, decided to contest the upcoming DDC elections unitedly. Now, it seems like their decision to contest elections jointly is not working very well because of the mistrust among members over seat-sharing. It is alleged that the member parties are fielding proxy candidates to contest as independent contestants in these elections.
For example, in Baramulla district in north Kashmir, the PAGD authorized National Conference’s Shabir Ahmad Lone for the Ruhama constituency. However, Khursheed Ahmad Khan, who is a member of the PAGD constituent Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (PC), has also decided to contest elections as an independent candidate.
He told The Wire that he is fighting for his own people and not running as a proxy for his party. He expressed his lack of trust in the alliance especially in the National Conference (NC). He said that the NC has been betraying them for decades and is now lying about restoring autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir and the special status that had been revoked.
In another case, the PAGD has authorised Nasir Ahmad Lone to contest elections in Kupwara’s Sugam constituency. However, the Peoples Conference’s oldest worker, Habibullah Bhat is also independently contesting the elections.
Lone explains that the top leaders of parties easily come together for pre-poll alliances or coalitions but it becomes very hard for on-ground workers and senior party members to unite. He said that workers of different political parties always confront each other in normal times and it makes it difficult for them to suddenly support each other because an alliance has taken shape between their senior party leaders.
Lone also explained that the decision to contest elections as an alliance was taken in a very short time because of which, the party leaders could not ask the party workers for their opinions on the alliance or even explain to them the need for the alliance.
Another candidate Bhat who was also planning to submit his nomination papers on Friday. He was angry with the alliance’s decision to give mandate to a NC candidate because he believes that nepotism was involved in the alliance’s decision as the chosen candidate is former MLA’s brother.
Overall, it has become quite a task for the PAGD member parties to convince their members to respect the mandate given by alliance and not contest independently. Allegations of parties’ running their proxy candidates should also not be entirely ruled out.