Former MLA and Awami Ittehad Party chief Engineer Rashid joined hands with IAS topper and J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal on Tuesday to contest the upcoming Assembly elections together under the banner of the Peoples United Front (PUF). “We will pursue an agenda of hope. We will not let people down,” said Mr. Rashid, who surprised all by garnering over one lakh votes in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in north Kashmir.Mr. Faesal said the new front “will provide justice and opportunities to all”. “History will take note of the fact that when the State was fighting its existential battle, there were some people who avoided staying divided and joining hands together,” said Mr. Faesal, who quit his IAS post in January and floated his own party.The two leaders, who hail from north Kashmir’s Kupwara, also released a 45-point common minimum programme (CMP). “We will pursue and facilitate the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue in its historical context as per the will, aspirations and sacrifices of the people of the erstwhile J&K State and support all confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan that can give relief to the people on both sides of LoC,” reads the CMP.It pledged to protect the special status and constitutional guarantees of the people of J&K State, including Articles 370 and 35A pending the resolution of the dispute.“Will work towards undoing the erosion of the special status and revoking the amendments extended from time to time by successive governments in violation of the principles of Accession,” it added.The alliance is likely to dent the political prospectus of the Peoples Conference (PC), headed by Sajad Lone, whose party is also headquartered in Kupwara district. Mr. Rashid bagged just 2,000 votes less than the PC in the Lok Sabha polls. Mr. Lone, who earlier intended to head a third front in Kashmir ahead of the polls, may find it hard to create any major grouping to counter the new political arrangements in north Kashmir.