New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir at his Delhi residence at 3 pm today in the central government’s first major outreach since the scrapping of special status under Article 370 in 2019.
Here are the top 10 points of this big story:
- The meeting is aimed at setting on course of the political process in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under President’s Rule since 2018 when the ruling coalition collapsed after the BJP snapped ties with then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
- Jammu and Kashmir parties will be sounded out on delimitation or redrawing of constituencies as the first step towards assembly polls after Jammu and Kashmir were bifurcated into two Union Territories. The government says while restoration of statehood will be considered at an appropriate time, that time has not come yet.
- Fourteen leaders from eight political parties — including Ms Mufti’s PDP and the National Conference — have been invited to the meeting. The Gupkar Alliance of Ms Mufti and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah – a seven-party conglomeration formed to push for restoration of statehood and special status — has said it will attend the meeting.
- The Congress has also said it would attend the meeting, and that restoration of statehood was its first priority.
- The meeting is the Centre’s first major outreach to political leaders of the Union Territory since August 2019, when the Centre scrapped special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. Several political leaders, including Ms Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, were detained amid massive security restrictions to prevent any violent protests over the sweeping changes.
- On Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and top security and intelligence officers.
- Home ministry officials have said with terrorism at a low in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the timing is right to begin the political process.
- There was an expectation that assembly elections will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
- But the Election Commission flagged concerns about security expressed by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.
- In December, local body elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir, in which Gupkar Alliance won more than 100 seats and the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 74 seats.