Complete delimitation process, declare polls in J&K: Azad

AICC leader Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing large public rally at Ramban on Saturday. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir
AICC leader Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing large public rally at Ramban on Saturday. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir

‘Jehad must be against poverty, unemployment’

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Dec 4: Former Union Minister and senior All India Congress Committee leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that Central Government must ensure early completion of delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir and announce Assembly elections immediately after winters.
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While addressing a large public gathering at Ramban today, Azad said the Delimitation Commission has already consumed about one and half years for the task assigned to it. It must bind up its exercise and complete the process. He said the Union Government must ensure the completion of this process as early as possible and declare elections in J&K.
“But before elections, the Union Government should restore the Statehood to J&K as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have already assured to restore Statehood to J&K. We hope, before announcing Assembly elections in J&K, the Central Government would honour its commitment and announce Assembly elections during March-April, 2022,” Azad maintained.
He further said that the real ‘Jehad’ is to fight against poverty and unemployment, rather than against any leader, party or religion.
He said the people of the country are suffering due to the price hike of essential commodities and the Congress has been fighting over it within and outside Parliament.
“Jehad (war) is not fighting against another religion. The real ‘Jehad’ is to wipe out poverty and unemployment which is our biggest enemy, rather than any leader or party,” Azad said.
The former J&K Chief Minister that he does not consider any leader or party as his enemy.
“There has been a spurt in the prices of fuel and other daily use items including vegetables and pulses. The domestic gas was available to the people for Rs 450 during the Congress rule, but now the price has gone up nearly three times, bringing misery to the commoners,” Azad said.
The AICC leader said, he is less a politician and more a reformer. ” I believe there is a need for reforms to end the evils of discrimination and maltreatment”.
“There are a few persons who are dividing the people on the basis of religion, which I view as a mental sickness. I, as a Chief Minister of J&K, never differentiated the people on the basis of religion and region and treated everyone equally,” Azad said, adding the people are precious to him and he was ready for any sacrifice for them.
The veteran Congress leader claimed that the present Government is not treating everyone equally and is taking “anti-people” steps like evicting people from their land which they have been possessing for decades together.
Azad said the people of J&K are suffering as there is no alternative to the democratic Government.
“The bureaucracy is no substitute for the popular government. We cannot hold them responsible for their failure to mitigate the sufferings of the public. They are not meant to visit far-off places and listen to the public as they are constitutionally assigned the job of working in offices,” Azad said.
Raising the demand for early restoration of Statehood followed by Assembly elections, the Congress leader said the people of J&K need a democratic government and not Central rule, which is going on after the fall of the previous Government in 2018.
AICC leader said the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister have already promised the restoration of statehood to J&K, and therefore, the Government should bring a bill in Parliament for this and also include in it Constitutional safeguards to protect land and jobs of the people of the Jammu and Kashmir.
Azad said elections can happen during March-April next year after winter ends as the security situation has also improved. But before that, Delimitation process should be completed and Statehood restored to J&K. He said all opposition parties need to stand and press for elections soon after the end of the winter as a popular Government alone can address the issues being faced by the people of J&K.
While appealing to the people to reject political parties seeking votes in the name of religion, the Congress leader said, “Let the people decide whether they should vote on the basis of development ensured by the Government or on the emotive slogans.”
“People doing politics on the basis of religion, region, creed or caste have no right to govern the public,” he said, adding that the people can be won over by love and not by the use of power.
Senior party leaders, GM Saroori, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, Ashok Kumar Dogra (ex-MLA) and DCC president for Ramban , Farooq Katoch also spoke on the occasion.