Centre looking for options in J&K, ‘anything possible’: Apni Party leader

Abid Bashir

Srinagar (NVI): Senior Apni Party leader Ghulam Hassan Mir today said that the Centre was looking for options in Jammu and Kashmir to fill the vacuum caused by the rollback of article 370 last year.

The former Agriculture Minister said that so far there is no reality in the rumors of forging an alliance with the Centre, but “anything is possible in the coming days.”

Mir, who is a key member of J&K Apni Party led by former PDP leader and finance minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, kept the suspense alive that his party head was in touch with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP big-wigs in New Delhi over forming an alliance to bridge the gap in J&K.

“Let me tell you clearly that so far whatever is spreading on social media and other platforms is a rumor. Some are saying that Altaf Bukhari is lobbying for Chief Minister’s post and Apni Party leaders are busy making ground for J&K Advisory Committee to get themselves accommodated. This all is a rumor,” Mir told NVI in an exclusive chat.

However, he said that nothing can’t be ruled out as anything is possible if the Centre takes a call. “Till August 4 last year, none believed that Centre would scrap article 370, but it did. So if Centre wishes to constitute an advisory committee by accommodating Apni Party members, none can stop it from happening,” he said, adding that “parleys were on behind the scene between Apni party leaders and some major developments were on cards till June 2.”

Mir, however, said that elections can’t be held at this juncture in J&K, and “some middle path has to be found.” Sources said that Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari is camping in New Delhi and has kept all his phones off. “He is holding secret meetings with the BJP top leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav to strike a deal before June 1 or 2,” sources in the Apni Party said.

A senior Apni Party leader said that making amendments in the constitution is not a big deal as it can be done through a simple presidential order. “If Delhi wishes, there can be an interim chief minister from Apni Party or there can be an Advisory Committee which is equivalent to the council of ministers. Powers of members of the Advisory Committee can be redefined by the Centre as per the suggestions of Apni party leaders,” he said, requesting anonymity.

“Somebody has to take a lead and there can’t be a status quo. The political vacuum needs to be filled and people need to be given some respite on development and political front. So expect some surprise in the days ahead,” he said.

Pertinently, Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari had recently downplayed the rumors that he was lobbying for Advisory Committee and Chief Minister’s post saying, “it’s a good joke.” However, sources said that he was deliberately downplaying the hectic lobbying going on between him and the BJP top brass in New Delhi as he wanted to “strike a deal” away from the media glare.

It may be recalled that on March 9 this year, Altaf Bukhari floated Apni Party with former ministers of PDP and independent legislators as its members. At the launch, Bukhari had stated that his party would fight for the people’s rights and statehood of J&K amid enough indications that the clock can’t turn back and that abrogation of article 370 was “quite acceptable to them.”