After BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit said that no advisory council or a government will be formed in the Union Territory without elections, the newly formed J&K Apni Party has also washed its hands off from taking responsibility for any such exercise in the future.
“We have no information about formation of the government or advisory council in Jammu and Kashmir. We came to know about it through media circles,” says Ghulam Hassan Mir, senior leader of Apni Party and a former minister. However, keeping people guessing, Mir said, “they haven’t consulted anyone on the issue. Once we are consulted about the formation of an advisory council or any other such political move, we will give our opinion.”
After reports that Ministry of Home Affairs is proposing an advisory council for Jammu and Kashmir to begin political outreach in the region in June, state BJP described the reports as preposterous and mischievous. According to them, the proposed advisory council will draw its members from the Apni Party, led by former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari, and other groups. State BJP president Ravinder Raina derisively said “no Bukhari or Kangri (an earthen pot with hot embers used by Kashmiris during winters) will be the chief minister of J&K. “The Chief Minister will be a Dogra from Jammu,” he said.
“Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir has four advisors already. If he needs another one, the Centre would nominate anyone. But there is no provision for formation of an advisory council for Jammu and Kashmir,” J&K BJP general secretary Ashok Koul told Outlook. He said there is no provision under the Reorganisation Act of Jammu and Kashmir for an advisory council. “Yeh in ka khayali palav hai aur yehi phala rahain hai (these reports are a pigment of their imagination and they only are spreading them),” Koul said.
As reports of formation of an advisory council came soon after the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav talked about starting political process in Jammu and Kashmir, and also argued that internet should be restored in the region, it unnerved J&K BJP. Soon after Madhav’s statement, Jammu and Kashmir administration, however, extended 4G internet ban in by another 15 days.
On August 4, 2019, a day before government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the government had imposed a communication blockade. It was later restored but internet services have been confined to low-speed 2G connectivity.
Bukhari has been camping in Delhi for the last three months, meeting senior leaders of the BJP to discuss the resumption of political process in Jammu and Kashmir. Bukhari, along with his party members, had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in March. Soon after the meeting with Modi, the Prime Minister’s office had issued a statement saying, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi met a 24 member delegation from Jammu & Kashmir’s Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari at Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi. In an interactive session, Prime Minister called for Janbhagidari in transforming Jammu & Kashmir and emphasized on the importance of an administration that gives voice to the people. Prime Minister also noted that the democracy in the region could be strengthened through a fast moving process of political integration.”
“Prime Minister engaged with the delegation on various issues like concerns on demographic changes, delimitation exercise and grant of state domicile. Referring to his statement in Parliament, Prime Minister underlined that the Government will work with all sections of the population to realize the hopes of state hood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity,” the statement had said. Since its meeting with the Prime Minister, Bukhari and his party consider themselves as serious players in J&K politics.