J&K parties, which put up a joint face in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the first all-party meeting in June this year after the August 5, 2019 move, were seen engaging in a war of words, amid shifting goalposts, this week in the Union Territory (UT).
From Congress to National Conference (NC), from J&K Apni Party (JKAP) to Peoples Conference(PC) to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), all the main opposition parties in J&K were at each other's throats, leaving once-a-joint-force in tatters.
There was even a bitter exchange of verbal duel between the leaders who parties are part of the People's Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of five regional parties constituted to fight for pre-August 5 position.
NC's Omar Abdullah, who was touring the Chenab valley, ticked off the PDP by blaming it for "current status of J&K".
"Lamhon ne khata ki, sadiyon ne saza paayi (Mistake of moments made generations to pay). How long will the people of J&K suffer because of that one decision of the PDP? NC offered unconditional support to the PDP to prevent Mufti Muhammad Sayeed from entering into a coalition with the BJP. He didn't accept and the people of J&K suffered immensely," Mr. Abdullah said, in a public speech.
It evoked sharp reaction from PDP's senior leader Naeem Akhtar. "PDP took an initiative to form the PAGD to stand united with all the political parties and be a voice for the people of J&K. There is no scope for internal rivalries. We should not be playing into the hands of those who have disempowered us and humiliated us," Mr. Akhtar said.
Mr. Akhter said the PAGD was not a merger of the political parties. "No statements should come up that will break the unity of the PAGD. The aim of our politics at this time should only be the restoration of our rights instead of playing own politics,” he said.
Sources said the top leadership of the NC and the PDP, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, had been in touch with each other following the verbal duel, and put in efforts to end the mudslinging in public.
In the meantime, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone also took potshots at Mr. Abdullah for his remarks that "the NC was the only saviour of people of J&K".
"Mr. Abdullah is a liar of the highest order. He showed BJP the way towards J&K. His Members of Parliament did not say a word on August 5, 2019. They were laughing. The NC may have been a cadre-based party but after 1990s, it too became establishment's party," Mr. Lone said.
Earlier in the week, the PDP and the J&K Apni Party (JKAP) accused each other of being establishment's party. While PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, in an oblique reference to JKAP, said, "proxy parties were helping the BJP to make unconstitutional decisions as constitutional" by allying in their future electoral calculus.
Reacting her remarks, JKAP president Altaf Bukhari said the PDP was L.K. Advani's party. "The PDP has only taken youth of J&K to graveyards. They called their emotional blackmailing as politics," he said, while suggesting to focus on politics of development and not return of J&K's special constitutional position.
It was Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose tour and speeches made in the Chenab Valley and the Kashmir valley initially stirred a spate of reactionary statements from regional parties, after he remarked that the issue of Article 370 should be sidelined and the fight should be for the return of statehood and early elections in J&K, which many see as a bid to shift goalposts for the mainstream regional parties in the Union Territory (UT).