Putting speculations to rest, eight political parties with small presence in Jammu and Kashmir have formally announced the launch of the Third Front ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections.
The leaders of the Front, comprising the CPM, People’s Democratic Front, SP, LJP and others, held a three-hour meeting recently, which was also attended by the Awami National Conference, a breakaway faction of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s National Conference.
The ANC, headed by Omar’s aunt Begum Khalida Shah, was formed when her husband Ghulam Mohammad Shah deflected from the NC in 1982, following her father’s death. Shah went on to become the Chief Minister with Congress support.
Sources said the meeting was presided by CPM leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami and People’s Democratic Front president Hakim Mohammad Yasin -- both lawmakers in J&K Assembly.
This was the first meeting of its kind between the parties amid preparations for the polls. “The state is facing political uncertainty and we feel that political parties, civil society groups and youth should come forward so that in due course of time, an alternative option evolves on the political map of J&K,” said Tarigami.
Sources said that apart from the present political and security situation, the upcoming polls were ‘discussed threadbare’ in the meeting.
Political analysts here said that in a hung Assembly scenario Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed since 2002, the amalgam can play a very important role. It could align with any of the two Kashmir-based parties -- the NC or the PDP -- and play a crucial part in government formation.
Pertinently, Union Minister for Health Ghulam Nabi Azad had remarked during a Congress session in Kashmir last week that the grand old party would be a part of the government no matter which party wins more seats in the 87-member Assembly.
Tarigami said there was an immediate need for the parties to find a “common ground” for working together. “Of course electoral process is important,” he said.
He said they would hold two conventions -- in Srinagar and Jammu -- for which the dates would be announced soon.