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Keeping the next assembly polls in mind, the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir are formulating a policy for the state in general. The draft policy is expected to come up soon for deliberations at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) which is going to take a final call on the policy to be followed by the party in the State vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue.

According to sources, the J&K Policy Planning Group of the grand old party which met various delegations across the three regions of the State since September last year, has prepared a draft policy to be followed by the party in the State. A party leader said that the J&K Policy Planning Group headed by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was primarily constituted to draft a policy on Kashmir as the party felt rudderless in the state in comparison to other political parties.

Local Congress leaders are of the view that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) have a stated policy on Kashmir and it was only the Congress that had no such policy on the State since 1947. The move comes after the party high command in consultation with the State unit realised that the party has no locus stand vis-à-vis Kashmir leading to loss of considerable political ground of the party in the State over the years.

A party leader told the reporters that Kashmir-based leaders of the party had to be politically correct in their speeches keeping in mind the party’s nationalistic agenda on one side and the valley’s electorate on the other.
He also said that the Kashmir policy was the brainchild of the Congress Working Committee members Tariq Hameed Karra and Ghulam Nabi Azad soon after Karra joined the party last year.

The party is also taking on board, views of people from Jammu and Ladakh regions where the Congress has also witnessed a decline in its electoral fortunes. However, the main focus of the policy is the Kashmir valley because of which the party lost its position as the main opposition to the National Conference.

At present, the policy is in its final stages and is tipped to be crucial for State politics in general and the Congress in particular as the debate around Article 35-A rages on. Meanwhile, the BJP has termed the J&K Policy Planning Group as a ‘political gimmick’ and has accused Congress of having two sets of views, one in the Valley and the other in Jammu, on the contentious issues like Articles 370 and Article 35-A.

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