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PUF will divide political mandate in Valley, say rivals
7/2/2019 11:29:27 PM
Early Times Report

JAMMU, July 2: The formation the Peoples United Front (PUF) has not gone down well with the NC and other parties in Kashmir. Last month Shah Faesal and Er Rasheed formed the PUF and declared that it would contest the assembly elections in the state. Its rivals in Kashmir have opined that the PUF "may inadvertently end up helping the BJP by dividing the political mandate in the Valley" and "facilitate the BJP's resurgence in Jammu and fulfil its promise of installing a Hindu chief minister from the Jammu region in the state".
The alliance between Shah Faesal and Rashhed has "sent shock waves to other political parties" and the "most worried is Peoples Conference's chief Sajad Gani Lone," reports from Kashmir suggest. "The PUF is the creation of the Indian Army," the Lone's party was quoted as saying. It has also dismissed the PUF as "Sadbhawana alliance".
Former chief minister and NC's vice president, Omar Abdullah, had on occasions more than one before and during the Lok Sabha elections had raised questions about the formation of political groups during the election time, and in Kashmir only. He had asserted that "these groups are being floated to divide the mandate of Kashmir-based parties in Kashmir". Farooq Abdullah too had expressed similar views.
"There is a fear in New Delhi that if the NC or PDP will come in majority in the state, they won't let its nefarious designs to succeed in Kashmir. But let me tell you something, the move to divide mandate through these new parties is not happening for the first time in Kashmir," a senior NC leader was quoted as saying. The NC leader also reportedly claimed that "during the 1960s and 1970s, New Delhi had raised local Congress cadres - denounced as 'gutter worms' by Sheikh Abdullah - to cut the NC to size".
The NC leadership had repeatedly said that the PDP was the brainchild of New Delhi and it was floated to weaken the NC and divide the Kashmir's political mandate.
The PDP was formed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti in 1999. Ever since then, the NC has not been able to win the required number of seats in the 87-member assembly. Before 1999, the NC was the only party in Kashmir that ruled the roost. In 1996, it had won 57 seats, but in 2002, it could win only 28. Its tally remained the same in the 2008 elections. In 2017, it suffered the biggest defeat; it could win only 15 seats. On the other hand, the PDP created history by winning 28 seats, 25 from the Kashmir Valley alone.
The rivals of the PUF feel that "it could win 6 to 7 seats from North Kashmir". Their belief stems from the fact that Er Rasheed led in the five assembly constituencies in Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency and he polled more than 1 lakh votes. Rasheed had basically damaged the Lone's party.
The main refrain of the rivals of the PUF is that "Kashmir would deliver a fractured mandate", "not one political party would be able to win a majority on its own" and "the fractured verdict will only help BJP make a Hindu from Jammu Chief Minister of the state". Interestingly, the BJP has already declared that "this time the Chief Minister will be from Jammu and he will be a Hindu".
"It will happen this time. A dream is to come true," J&K BJP chief Ravinder Raina has said, and added that "We will have a Hindu chief minister from Jammu this time."
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