Former independent MLA Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid and former IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal are cobbling up an alliance in order to challenge the traditional mainstream parties in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir Assembly election, which are expected to be held later this year.
Rashid, who hails from Langate area of north Kashmir is the first mainstream politician in the Valley to join Faesal's Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM). Both leaders are from north Kashmir.
"We have been discussing this for a long time and it is finally taking shape,” said Faesal, adding that a formal announcement will be made soon.
The coming together of the two faces has produced the first major alliance before the Assembly elections in north Kashmir where, until few months back, former BJP ally Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference was considered to be the only game changer.
"We are in an alliance for the better future of Kashmir and for raising the voice of oppressed and talking about the real issues," said Rashid, 51, who had stunned everyone by polling 1,01,500 votes — leading in five Assembly segments — as an independent candidate from Baramulla parliamentary constituency.
Rashid was 31,192 votes behind the National Conference's winning candidate, Akbar Lone, and had 827 lesser votes than Raja Aijaz, his main rival from Sajad's Peoples Conference.
With the PDP virtually routed from the region, this is the first major alliance that would have a direct impact on the outcome of the upcoming Assembly election even as the National Conference seems to be gaining ground.
Rashid is already seen as the biggest force after the National Conference in the region. Now, his joining hands with Faesal's JKPM, which already has a connect with the youth, would only strength the party.
"If this is happening, it is a good decision," said Sajad Ahamd Sheikh, a worker of Faesal’s party, “We will emerge as a major force to reckon with in the state politics."
The Election Commission of India recently said that an announcement regarding the conduct of state Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be made later this year.
In the last month’s parliamentary elections, Rashid was leading in five constituencies of north Kashmir including Karnah, Langate, Uri, Baramulla and Tangmarg, putting him in a head-to-head fight with the National Conference, in the upcoming Assembly election.
The alliance with JKNM is likely going to swing the youth in Rashid's favour, and the new voters, many of whom see Faesal as an alternative to state's traditional political parties, are likely going to strengthen the alliance's base in not only north but south Kashmir as well.
“You will have a press release soon,” he added.
In this realignment of the political landscape, Kashmir is seemingly divided into three regions where three political parties or alliances (in case of Rashid) will enjoy clout. Political experts said that the Valley would be electorally further divided with these alliances.
"This (division of votes) will also increase the probability of the state having a chief minister from Jammu region, a promise the BJP leaders have claimed would be fulfilled if the party comes to power," Professor Ajaz Ahmad Wani, a political scientist who teaches at the University of Kashmir, said.
In Jammu the BJP won 25 seats in the last Assembly elections. Although the party might not be able to pocket all the seats it had won in the 2014 elections, it is still likely to maintain a lead and win most of the seats from the Hindu majority region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Updated Date: Jun 17, 2019 21:58:14 IST