SRI NAGAR: Former PDP leader and ex-finance minister Altaf Bukhari is emerging as a strong contender to lead the “alternative or Third Front” in Jammu and Kashmir as the top leadership of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continue to be in detention. Bukhari, an influential businessman who was close to BJP leaders, especially Ram Madhav, during the PDP-BJP coalition government in J&K from 2015-2018, also has got support from influential former minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, one of the founding members of PDP.
The two have managed to rope in around a dozen mainstream leaders in their fold. Sources said Congress leader from north Kashmir Usman Majid, who is a former minister, is also in touch with Bukhari and Mir. There is speculation that some more PDP, Congress and NC leaders, who were recently released from detention, may join hands with them.
Hassan Mir told this newspaper that their main agenda is the restoration of statehood to J&K and pressing for constitutional safeguards for J&K residents. “We have to move beyond Article 370, which was sacred for us. However, it has gone. Should I keep crying for it or move forward,” Mir asked.A source said Bukhari also enjoys the tacit support of the BJP. “The BJP’s intention is to isolate NC and PDP and start a new chapter in J&K politics.”
‘No doubt on India’s approach to Kashmir’
Russia on Friday said it had no doubts over India’s approach in Kashmir. Russian envoy Nikolay Kudashev said, “The Kashmir issue is a strictly bilateral one between India and Pakistan. Those having doubts over India’s approach on Kashmir can go there, we don’t have any doubt.”