Amit Shah Calls J&K Alliance 'Gupkar Gang'; Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti Hit Back

"We are not a 'gang' Amit Shah ji, we are a legitimate political alliance," said Omar Abdullah.

New Delhi: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have hit back at Union home minister Amit Shah who on Tuesday called an alliance of J&K’s mainstream political parties, the ‘Gupkar gang.’

Shah said the alliance was an “unholy global gathbandhan” and that it went against national interest.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) is a conglomerate of regional and national political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, which was formed to demand the restoration of the Article 370, which the Centre scrapped suddenly last year. The heads of the Gupkar parties were slapped with Public Safety Act cases and nearly all were kept captive for almost a year.

Led by National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, the Alliance also has the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference, CPI (M), Awami National Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (J&KPM).

It is unclear what Shah meant to indicate by decrying ‘global’ participation in the parties’ alliance.

It is also unclear as to what spurred Shah on to tweet thrice on the alliance other than the fact that the first phase of the newly constituted District Development Council elections are scheduled to take place on November 25. This is going to be the first political exercise in the Union Territory since it was formed by the Centre. Significantly, the Gupkar Alliance has decided to contest the polls jointly.

Also read: Gupkar Alliance Makes a Consequential Decision: Finding Answers Through the Democratic Process

In the tweets, Shah also appeared to ask Congress party’s Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as to whether they support the alliance. The Congress is not a part of the alliance.

Hitting back, the Congress said it strongly refutes Shah’s “concocted and baseless” assertions. In a two-page statement posted on Twitter, its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Shah was making mischievous statements on Jammu and Kashmir.

“Maybe Amit Shah and the Modi government need a new lesson on nationalism because their parental organisation RSS did not hoist the tricolour for 52 years after independence at its headquarters,” he said.

This is not the first time the Union home minister has used the word ‘gang’ to illegitimise a legal grouping. His labelling of JNU students and activists who were anti-BJP as the ‘tukde tukde gang‘ has proven enduring for those in the BJP, even though Shah’s own ministry said earlier this year that it has no data on any such gang.

Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, whose party, the PDP, is part of the alliance, wrote that Shah appeared to say that the very instrument responsible for the BJP having been able to form its latest state government in Bihar – a political alliance – is now being decried as one which undermines national interest.

Fighting elections in an alliance is also anti-national now. BJP can stitch as many alliances in its hunger for power but somehow we are undermining national interest by putting up a united front.

She also accused Shah of ignoring real issues in the garb of bringing up made-up ones like ‘love jihad’ and the ‘Gupkar gang’.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also issued a rebuttal, alleging that the home minister’s “frustration” stems from the political amalgam deciding to contest the forthcoming local body elections and not giving the BJP and its allies a free run. Abdullah appeared to indicate that the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, floated by ex-PDP leader Altaf Bukhari, had informed Shah that the alliance was keen to boycott the election.