‘PAGD Hasn’t Done Anything Great Till Now’

PDPs Rajya Sabha member Mir Mohammad Fayaz tells Yawar Hussain

Leaders of “Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration” addressing a press conference at PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s Gupkar residence on October 24, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

KASHMIR LIFE (KL): Aspersions have been raised on the sincerity of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) by its own leaders. What are your views on it?

MIR MOHAMMAD FAYAZ (FM): PAGD is a failure till it doesn’t come up with a roadmap. They should clear as to what they want to do in the coming future. In the Kupwara district, there was a lack of unity during recent District Development Council (DDC) polls. If the present state of affairs continues, the PGAD would not be taken positively by people. In absence of a roadmap, the future would not be good. The PAGD needs to be truthful.

KL: What should be the roadmap?

FM: See, if the same manner, in which the DDC polls were handled inside PAGD continues then the people would not be associated with the ideas for which it was formed. Already apprehensions have been raised among people. It would not be good for the cause for which the PAGD was conceptualized in the first place. A decision to contest together was taken at the top which failed to permeate to the bottom level. Proxy candidates were put up by everyone on the ground. The same issue was raised by Bashsrat (Bukhari) Sahab also.

KL: By contesting DDC elections, hasn’t the PAGD itself signed up for contesting all future elections?

FM: As far as PAGD is concerned, they already fought DDC elections and now they will have to fight all elections. They would have no argument to not fight any future election after this. But again they need to formulate a strategy for future polls, if any, as well.

KL: Your party was given a mandate on fewer seats by the PAGD. Did it not hurt the PDP’s interests?

FM: When seats were being distributed in the PAGD, it was said the whole exercise is for a larger interest. I was part of the process but that larger interest died a silent death. Proxy candidates were put up by PAGD constituents even on the few seats we had been given by them. This whole exercise has only hurt PDP because there was no pure intention in these polls in PAGD.  If the intentions would have been clean, the National Conference wouldn’t have put up proxy candidates.

KL: Is this not going to hurt the unity of PAGD?

FM: Definitely, this is going to hurt the unity of PAGD in the future. As far as I know, a roadmap is a must. The top-level leadership of all the PAGD parties should take all the district level leaders on board. Till that is not done, this whole PAGD thing is a futile exercise.

KL: The PAGD’s aim for the restoration of Article 370 and allied things is so far based on the Supreme Court’s verdict. Should they be doing more?

FM: The case of Article 370 has been in the Supreme Court prior to its abrogation and later all the parties joined in to become parties to it. I don’t know when its verdict would come. I believe it would not be any time soon. See the case of Babri Masjid took nearly two decades to have a final verdict. If we go by that then it is going to take a lot of time. And the PAGD has no roadmap to fight to get back what happened on August 5 barring a case before the Supreme Court. People did support us in DDC elections but we (political parties) are doing what we have been always doing. People supported seeing our stated intentions. But today people become happy if a mainstream politician is put in jail because we haven’t been doing what should be done on the ground. PAGD hasn’t done anything great till now.

KL: In your home district, PDP fought on four DDC seats and won none. Who is responsible for this?

FM: We were given Karnah seat by PAGD but the National Conference, Peoples Conference and Congress all had put up their candidates there. The outcome of this was that the Apni Party grabbed the seat from us. In Dragmulla the counting is yet to take place. We lost two other seats in the Lolab assembly segment. On Wavoora’s seat, Haji Farooq Mir, a former Congressman turned independent candidate defeated our candidate as he was supported by a lot of other parties. On Kalaroose seat, which was reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST), our candidate was again trounced.

KL: With Peoples Conference being accorded six seats in Kupwara district against your four, hasn’t PDP been the loser here?

FM: When the decision to contest this election was taken, there were no considerations of which party would gain or lose. The aim to fight this election was to send a message that people here are not happy that Article 370 was abrogated. This was to be done by fighting a collective and united fight. PDP’s loss and gain was taken into consideration. Also, Peoples Conference being a Kupwara specific party had requested that it should be given more seats in the district because in the south and central Kashmir they were not being awarded seats. Our people campaigned and voted for them because we believed that they are PAGD’s candidates.

KL: PDP lost a number of senior leaders. What happened after the fall of the BJPDP government?

FM: I joined the party much later than the likes of Muzzafar Hussain Beigh, Tariq Hameed Karra and Qzai Afal. They were veterans. These people had built the party. They had their misunderstanding and disagreements. Our party failed to convince them. The chasm had grown so wide between them and the party that it couldn’t be fulfilled. This all started after the death of Mufti (Sayeed) Sahab. These leaders say that some people hijacked the party when Mufti Sayeed died. These felt that they were being ignored by the party.

KL: Was joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) right? Did it pave the way for the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A?

FM: As far as forming a government with the BJP is concerned, Mufti (Sayeed) Sahab consulted all the party leaders. I remember it clearly. Back then, we discussed what would be the benefits and drawbacks of forming the government with the BJP. BJP had won 25 seats in Jammu. They had a majority in the region along with a majority in the rest of the country as well. An Agenda of Alliance was signed and the BJP agreed to not tamper with the special position of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir including Articles 370 and 35-A. Till we were in the government with them, nobody tinkered with our special position. It was later when the special position was abrogated. Mufti Sayeed was a visionary leader. His decision to go with BJP was in Kashmir’s interest. He wanted a resolution of the Kashmir issue which has troubled our people badly. He didn’t want to grab power.

KL: Do you fear that PAGD is going disintegrate like a pack of cards?

FM: I would only say that they need to put forth a roadmap quickly in front of the public so that this whole thing isn’t a fruitless exercise.

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