JKNPP Leadership Crisis Deepens: Nephews Clash Over Top Post


SRINAGAR: The ongoing tussle over the leadership of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) has resurfaced, with two nephews of the late party founder, Bhim Singh, asserting their claims to the presidency of the party, Indian Express reported. This has led to conflicting statements regarding their affiliation with the Opposition INDIA alliance.

Former state education minister Harsh Dev Singh, one of Bhim Singh’s nephews, is currently participating in the third strategy meeting of the INDIA alliance as the JKNPP president. However, Harsh Dev’s cousin, Vilakshan Singh, has challenged this claim.

In a letter addressed to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, dated August 30 and written on the party’s official letterhead, Vilakshan Singh asserted himself as the genuine party president. He also stated that the “Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party is not inclined to be part of the INDIA alliance” and accused Harsh Dev of falsely representing himself as the party president.

The letter, as per Indian Express stated, “Any representation or assurance made by Harsh Dev Singh may be considered only in his individual capacity and not as a representative of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party,” and mentioned that the Election Commission (EC) had been notified of this matter.

Sources indicate that both Harsh Dev Singh and Vilakshan Singh have approached the EC to gain recognition for their respective factions as the legitimate JKNPP. Harsh Dev claimed that he was elected JKNPP president on April 2 after his return from the AAP, replacing Vilakshan. On the other hand, Vilakshan asserted that he was elected president on June 19, 2022, by the party’s working committee meeting, chaired by Jay Mala Singh, the wife of Bhim Singh, until March 2023. This presidency was reportedly extended by two years at a subsequent working committee meeting on April 14.

The EC has requested responses from both parties by September 8 to resolve this leadership dispute. It’s worth noting that Harsh Dev Singh and MLA Balwant Singh Mankotia, another nephew of Bhim Singh, had departed from the JKNPP to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) during Bhim Singh’s lifetime. After the passing of the party’s founder-president on May 31, 2022, the JKNPP split into two factions, led by Vilakshan Singh and P K Ganjoo.

Ganjoo, a long-standing associate of Bhim Singh, claimed to have been elected president of his faction by the working committee in June 2022, while Vilakshan maintained that he was elected president of his faction on June 19, 2022. Both factions assert that they have the support of the majority of the working committee members from the original, undivided party.


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