In a significant setback to Congress and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, senior leaders of both the parties have jumped the boat to join the emerging third front. PDP leader and former minister Altaf Bukhari, left Mehbooba Mufti-led party to establish a political outfit called 'Apni Party' in the newly formed union territory. The party is set to launch formally on March 8 in Srinagar.
In a unanimous vote, Altaf Bukhari was elected as the president of the party by the newly joined members. Amongst the leaders from the Congress and PDP, National Conference (NC) leader Vijay Bakaya also joined the third front amid a political instability in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
Businessman-turned-politician, Bukhari initiated the third front following the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 in the Parliament last year. He was then joined by an array of politicians hailing from varied parties across Jammu and Kashmir including NC, PDP, Congress and the BJP. Bukhari was a former legislator from Amira Kadal constituency in Srinagar, and also served as Roads & Buildings, Education and Finance minister during the PDP-BJP coalition government.
Among the prominent leaders set to join Apni Party are former legislators that include Vijay Bakaya, Usman Majid, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Javed Beg, Dilawar Mir, Zaffar Manhas, Noor Muhammad, Abdul Rahim Rather, Abdul Majid Paddar, Gagan Bhagat and Manjeet Singh. Ten senior leaders of the Congress party quit the grand old party to join the new front. Reportedly, 39 leaders from across political parties will be joining Altaf Bhukari's new party on Sunday.
The third front was constituted by the politicians with the significant aim of forming a new political party to provide relief to the people who have been facing uncertainty since August 5, last year. This comes after repeated condemnation towards the 'two families', the Abdullahs and the Muftis for allegedly looting the erstwhile state.
Earlier on January 30, Bukhari held a meeting with his new party colleagues in Jammu on reaching out to the people for mobilizing a democratic grassroots movement. The Centre has reportedly been in talks with the new political front' comprising of activists, journalists and local politicians in Jammu-Kashmir Valley to determine the political scenario and discuss delimitation. Moreover, several mainstream leaders - Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Shah Faesel, Naeem Akhtar, Ali Mohammad Sagar, and Sarah Madni have been detained under the Public Safety Act by the Jammu-Kashmir administration.
Restrictions have been put on communication links since August 5 in Jammu and Kashmir, these were subsequently eased. Since the revocation, state-run internet provider BSNL has restored internet services throughout the Kashmir valley, but with a speed of 2G with special instructions. The temporary ban on social media sites was removed last week, however, complaints of inaccessibility persisted. Several mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers- Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others including Shah Faesel, Naeem Akhtar, Ali Mohammad Sagar, and Sarah Madni have been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) by the Jammu-Kashmir administration for over seven months now.