Amid speculations about elections in Jammu and Kashmir and its return to statehood, the Centre has reportedly sent feelers for an all-party meeting to leaders of the Union Territory on June 24. In all likelihood, the meeting will be held in Delhi and is being seen as the Center’s first outreach to Valley-based political parties since August 5, 2019, when the state was bifurcated, turned into a Union Territory, thus losing its special status.
Even though there was no word from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) confirmed to News18 that they have received an informal intimation from the Centre about the meeting. “A formal invitation is awaited," a leader said.
When asked about the agenda of the meeting, a source in New Delhi quipped, “Politicians will discuss politics."
If it happens, the meeting will take place in the backdrop of rife speculations about elections and delimitation exercises in the UT. The delimitation commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, has been tasked to increase the number of elected representatives in Jammu and Kashmir from 107 to 114. There are also reports that the balance of power in Jammu and Kashmir could change after the delimitation exercise.
Once the commission submits its report, the Election Commission would announce the polls. The elections would mean the return of statehood for the state-turned-Union Territory which could happen by year-end.
The Gupkar Alliance has indicated that if the Centre approaches them for talks, they will respond. “The door for negotiations with the Centre has not been shut," NC leader Farooq Abdullah had told reporters on June 9 after a meeting of the coalition of most big parties from the Valley.
Hours earlier, Home Minister Amit Shah had held a security review meeting with the Jammu & Kashmir DGP, DG CRPF, and chief of RAW and Intelligence Bureau and NSA Ajit Doval, where he pushed for a two-pronged approach of development and zero tolerance for terrorists in the Valley. The paramilitary companies which had been withdrawn from the Union territory for elections in West Bengal and other states have now gone back to the Valley. Paramilitary officials say security deployment-wise they are ready for election in Jammu & Kashmir.