Sajjad Gani Lone’s entry into the poll fray has given an interesting twist to the Lok Sabha elections in the Kashmir valley. Lone, who heads the Peoples Conference, is first leader of repute from the separatist camp to have decided to contest the polls. He is pitched against two senior leaders, Shareef-ud-Din Shariq of the National Conference (NC) and Dilawar Mir of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in north Kashmir’s Kupwara-Baramulla constituency. Lone’s party and other separatist groups have stayed away from both Assembly as well as Lok Sabha polls since 1987 and in fact had called for a poll boycott in last year’s elections to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. This time too both factions of the Hurriyat Conference - one headed by Syed Ali Geelani and the other by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have launched a poll boycott campaign but Sajjad Lone has decided otherwise. In an exclusive interview with CURRENT, Lone tells Bashir Manzar that he has not changed his stance vis-à-vis the resolution to the Kashmir imbroglio but has changed his strategy keeping in tune with ground realities as well as the changing global scenario.
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