Srinagar, June 29
Amid the political vacuum in the Union Territory, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha today invited leaders of mainstream political parties to high tea at Raj Bhavan here, ahead of the commencement of the 43-day annual Amarnath Yatra on Thursday.
It was the first time that mainstream parties were invited to Raj Bhavan after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. “L-G Manoj Sinha requests the pleasure of your company at high tea on Wednesday at 1800 hours at the Raj Bhavan Auditorium, Srinagar,” the invitation read. “We conveyed our grievances and talked about the widening gap between Raj Bhavan and the parties,” Janata Dal (United) leader GM Shaheen told The Tribune. Upset, New Delhi had conveyed to Raj Bhavan to engage with the political leaders, claimed sources. “The Amarnath Yatra is the best occasion to break the ice. The lack of political engagement in J&K has caused consternation in Delhi,” a source close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, pointing out that the meeting had come amid the growing criticism of the J&K administration over targeted killings. Among those at the meeting were Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Ravinder Raina of the BJP, Altaf Bukhari of Apni Party, Hakeem Yaseen of the People’s Democratic Front, GA Mir of the Congress, CPI (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami, GM Shaheen of the JD(U) and Muzaffar Baig.
Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone were among the absentees.
“The L-G sought the cooperation of parties and communal harmony for the smooth conduct of the Amarnath Yatra,” BJP leader Ravinder Raina said. A PDP spokesperson said it was strange that the office of the L-G had invited leaders at such a ‘sensitive’ time.
“If there were something to be discussed, an agenda should have been set for the meeting,” PDP chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said.
The L-G said a similar meeting with political parties would be held after 10 days of yatra. “The leaders appealed to the people for their support in the conduct of the yatra,” Raj Bhavan said.
The leaders of prominent parties of J&K put forth their views for the smooth conduct of the yatra, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.
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