It took 28 years for Kashmir’s first family to eschew the bitterness and kick start the efforts for the reunion with its estranged kin in the restive state.
For the first time since 1984, National Conference (NC) led by union minister Farooq Abdullah and Awami National Conference (ANC) led by his estranged elder sister Khalida Shah seemingly have buried the hatchet to make a new beginning in the Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is because Farooq and Omar went to Khalida Shah to enquire about her health since she had suffered injuries to her hand. That was the beginning. Later there was a religious function at my home where both of my sisters (Khalida and Surya), Omar and Farooq participated and broke bread together”, Mustafa Kamal, additional general secretary of NC and younger brother of Farooq and Khalida told DNA.
Khalida and her family had broken all ties with Abdullahs in 1984 when her late husband GM Shah engineered a coup and split the National Conference which led to the fall of Farooq’s government.
Shah named the NC rebel group as National Conference (Khalida) which was later rechristened Awami National Conference. Shah became the chief minister with the support of Congress but the honeymoon was short lived.
Though Farooq and Omar joined in Shah’s funeral some years ago, the families were not in the reconciliatory mood which reflected on the political scene in Kashmir as well. Such was the bitterness that Khalida contested against Farooq in the last Lok Sabha polls which she eventually lost.
Years later both parties and leaders are trying to make a new beginning.
“I have read what Mustafa Kamal has said. I respect his thinking. But these (mergers) are the things where one has to sit and discuss before taking a decision. Whatever steps we take should be in the interest and benefit of the people”, Khalida told DNA.
She however noted that there has not been any formal discussion between NC and ANC on the merger issue so far.
“There is no direct discussion with us so far. We have no hesitation in talking if anybody desires so. We have never slammed doors for talks. We should keep in mind everything what Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did which GM Shah followed”, she said.