Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who convened a crucial meeting of 14 political bigwigs from all major parties from Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, called upon all leaders to keep aside differences and work in national interest for the benefit of the people.
This is the first interaction between the central leadership and the mainstream parties since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
'CONDUCTING SUCCESSFUL ELECTIONS ON PRIORITY'
Sources said, Modi stressed that holding assembly elections just like the successful conduct of DDC elections will be a priority. The meeting discussed that elections will soon happen after delimitation, and by and large most participants expressed willingness for it.
The major focus of the meeting was to strengthen the democratic process, sources said, adding that the prime minister emphasised the need to strengthen democracy at the grassroots and work together with the people of J&K to ensure their upliftment.
Modi also expressed happiness over the commitment to Constitution and democracy espoused by all participants, sources said. He talked about giving opportunities to the youth of the region.
'EVEN ONE DEATH IS PAINFUL'
During the meeting, the prime minister said that even one death in Jammu and Kashmir is painful and it is our collective duty to protect our younger generation.
The four former chief ministers of the erstwhile state who participated in the discussions were Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. Four former deputy chief ministers were in attendance too - Congress’ Tara Chand, People's Conference leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig and BJP's Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta.
CPI-M leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari, Sajjad Lone of the People's Conference, J-K Congress head G A Mir, BJP's Ravinder Raina and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh also formed part of the delegation.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, and Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh were in attendance too.
'REMOVING DILLI KI DOORI...DIL KI DOORI'
Modi said he wants to remove both "Dilli ki Duri" and "Dil Ki Duri". He stressed that an atmosphere of safety and security needs to be ensured for all sections of society in the region.
Commending the development achieved by Jammu and Kashmir and its pro-people initiatives, the prime minister expressed satisfaction with the acceleration of development in the region, saying that it is creating new hope and aspirations among the people.
He said that when people experience corruption free governance, it inspires trust among the people, and thereby people also extend their co-operation to the administration which is visible in Jammu and Kashmir today.