Srinagar, July 30: National Conference *Vce-President and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir has become perplexed as there is complete lull on much awaited assembly elections in the region. He said BJP is scared of holding assembly polls in J&K and added, “The party is well aware about its fate”.
In an interview with a local news agency Kashmir News Service on wide range of issues including prevailing political situation in J&K, increase of seats in legislative assembly for Kashmiri Pandits and West Pakistani Refugees, delay in holding assembly elections, recently formed INDIA alliance by opposition parties to combat BJP in 2024 general elections and others, the former chief minister said the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir is in a state-of-confusion where a space for dissent has been strangulated.
He said the formation of Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) by opposition parties has frustrated BJP, compelling them to revive National Democratic Alliance (NDA) again to resist against the challenge of unity showed by almost 26 political parties of the country.
Political Situation in J&K:
The political situation in Jammu and Kashmir is perplexed. There is a vacuum as Chief Election Commission (CEC) had himself admitted. The state is without assembly for last six years and government has kept grave silence on assembly elections. The administrative situation is also at worst. Just few millimeters of rainfall submerge cities and towns. People’s properties get damaged and there is no one from authorities to own a responsibility. People are not allowed to speak against injustice. Government is being used to suppress people by installing smart meters, hefty electricity bills, water taxes, unemployment etc. Let you check the condition of our hospitals. No senior doctor remains available. Patients have been handed over to juniors. It seems there is no coordination between government and people.
Delay in assembly polls:
Omar said that BJP does not want assembly elections to conduct in J&K till they are not confident they will get majority of seats in the region. BJP is well aware of this fact that they will not get enough seats in future elections in J&K. For this purpose they have taken up the process to increase seats in the name of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) and West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs) just to continue their political dominance. They try to increase the seats before polls. Had they confident about their victory they would have done assembly elections in J&K long back.
He said, “BJP knows that in the current scenario, they will never get seats. In fact, if elections are held today they will probably not even cross ten seats. Therefore, their political future is linked to how best they can divide voters in Jammu and Kashmir. And that’s what they’re doing. But let elections come. I’m sure you will find that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are much wiser. They will not allow these sort of conspiracies to divide them.”
Asking for election is not a crime:
He said asking for assembly election is not a crime. If it is a crime then halt the democratic exercise across the country. How long BJP would befool people of the country that peace has prevailed in J&K and there is no need for elections now. He said BJP underestimates the contribution of regional political parties and are talking of those years Kashmir witnessed uncertainty.
“Why don’t BJP mentioning 2011, or post flood years? Why it only talks of 2010 and 2016. Weren’t there a large number of tourists in Kashmir in those years? Were not tourism, education and developmental activities flourished? He said I don’t know on what basis government is thumping chests about good attendance of students in 2022. I don’t know where from government bring the numbers. BJP want its majority in J&K so forthcoming elections shouldn’t be looked for electricity, road etc but to stop further misadventures of BJP. People of J&K don’t think August 2019 decisions fair. Many who celebrated the decision and distributed sweets in Jammu are regretting today. Leh is protesting on the decision. They even said that we were much better with Kashmir. So whenever government will conduct assembly elections in J&K, it shouldn’t be treated lightly by people. Our main thrust should be on stopping BJP’s inroads in J&K and protect the identity of the region. We will try to convince people on this matter and I can’t say 100 percent people will back us. Our party has never said that people should pick arms. We seek peace in the region and always advocate for democracy. Gun leads to death and destruction. People of J&K were exploited by few elements in past who handed over guns to their hands and exploited them. There is a need to learn things from past and whatever bad has happened in past should not be repeated onwards. BJP know they do not get full majority and it is why they are evading polls. Time will prove they cannot get even 10 seats in J&K
Hartal & dissent:
Omar Abdullah said dissent is inalienable part of democracy and it will always exist but today media is barred from publishing another side of the story.
“Media is not allowed to publish dissent. I dare you let you publish a story with opposite version, next day you will see yourself in jail. There is no freedom of expression. You have no right to talk with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, etc. But when we were at helm, we gave media adequate space. Today you can see newspapers publish only cartoons of Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and mine. They cannot make cartoons of Lieutenant Governor or some other dignitary of the present dispensation. They know if they will resort to such drawings they will be summoned to Police Stations on the very next day. When my cartoon was published I didn’t summon anyone.
On recently formed Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to fight BJP in upcoming 2024 general elections, the former chief minister Omar Abdullah said I hope the alliance will fight BJP collectively. “Since INDIA formation, BJP too has given rebirth to NDA that clearly speaks their frustration. I think the alliance is itself a success as single party cannot defeat BJP in present political situation.
When asked about future modus operandi of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), meant for restoring snatched rights to J&K, Omar Abdullah said the future course of action will be decided as per the situation. Keep it secret till then. We did coalition in previous BDC and DDC polls but that was not as good as we expected. As of now there is no assembly election in J&K. PAGD is an electoral alliance aimed to fight for a big cause. What happened in August 5, 2019 will be flagged up by PAGD constituents unanimously. “I am fighting for the larger cause of J&K democratically. Our party will fight it in the Supreme Court. We will play our role at front foot. We have competent advocates like Kapil Sibal and others and are hopeful SC will deliver justice to people of J&K.
Abrogation of Article 370, 35(A):
I have no differences with BJP over abrogation of Article 370 and 35(A) as it was their political agenda from a very long period of time. It was their right to nullify it. But what I am saying they revoked it “undemocratically”. BJP resorted to such misadventures only when Congress got weakened in the country. They destroyed the very essence of the constitution. Any decision about Article 370 should have been done by local assembly but unfortunately Parliament has been used for it.
Autonomy & 370:
When asked how NC is hopeful in getting Article 370 back when Central Government had already rejected the proposal of Autonomy in past, the former chief minister Omar Abdullah said “I am not ready to accept the defeat. You can accept but I don’t. Why should not I raise my hands up? The case is sub-judice and I’m hopeful we will get our due rights back from the Supreme Court. Either better than Article 370. He said let pin your hope on judiciary. I am not eyeing on America, or some other country. It is our internal matter. There is no role of Pakistan or some else country. Those who didn’t object abrogation of Article 370 and 35(A) were doing lunch with union dignitaries. I saw their vehicles moving to Lalit hotel in Srinagar when I was kept under detention post-abrogation of Article 370.
BJP’s allegation rhetoric:
Omar Abdullah said that BJP couldn’t see pre-2014 developments in J&K. Leave us aside, this saffron party even ruled out the immense contribution of country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Let make BJP accountable for their rule. What they did post 2014 in J&K. It failed in augmenting infrastructure as well as tackling rising unemployment in the region. I have no need to regret. Let me clear who opened Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road? Who shook hands with Pakistan and engaged them into dialogue process. It was Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister of India. I shook hands with Late Vajpayee and not with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who destroyed the country’s secular fabric and snatched identity of J&K. Those who shook hands with Modi and Shah should regret for circumstance J&K is passing through nowadays. I am proud on working with Late Vajpayee Ji who took several measures that benefited people of J&K on both sides of LoC.
Late Mufti-BJP accord:
It has become past now and I don’t like blaming departed souls. I can say only “Lamhoon Ne Khata Ki, Sadyoon Ne Saza Payee”. I can’t say why people have kept silence today over injustice. Perhaps they have become mature to deal the situation with patience. Their emotions have been exploited, and they will respond in a democratic way at an appropriate time.
Welcomes Muharram processions, demands release of Mirwaiz
Omar Abdullah welcomed the government’s decision to allow Muharram processions on the traditional routes through Lal Chowk after more than three decades and demanded Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s release from house arrest and permission for Friday prayers at historical Jamia Masjid Srinagar.
“We welcome this decision. At the same time, we hope the government takes other steps as well. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is a religious leader and he should be released. Prayers should be allowed at historical Jamia Masjid in Srinagar without any curbs and Eid prayers should also be allowed at Eidgah.
Uniform Civil Code:
Honestly speaking I have not seen any proposal till date. What I heard that PM Narendra Modi has talked about UCC during his monthly radio program Mann Ki Baat. Let the proposal to come, we will respond. If any section of the society will get isolated then how it will be a uniform.
3-teir system in J&K:
Omar Abdullah said I feel no air in tier. Let you check functionality of Municipality. It cannot deal with few millimeters of rainfall. Our city and towns get inundated due to short spell of rains. Come to DDC, if any member there belongs to opposition, they are not being allowed to work freely. This has been our grassroots level democracy. Let Panchayat polls to come, we will fill air in tier.
Participation in assembly polls:
I have reiterated many times that I won’t participate in assembly polls whenever it will be held. “I had been a chief minister of J&K when it was a State. After downgrading it to UT, a CM is unable to appoint a peon without consent of New Delhi. For what I have to fight elections? I will continue my fight outside assembly.
Omar Abdullah said that only Ghulam Nabi Azad can express why he formed a new party in J&K amidst talks of assembly polls. “Ghulam Nabi Azad sahib is the most senior politician. I cannot question his intention. I have no confidence on Azad sahib but people of J&K who can bring a change through their votes whenever polls are held”. (KNS)