Asks Centre to bring Bill to restore ‘Statehood’ to J&K
JAMMU, Dec 1: Former Union Minister and senior All India Congress Committee leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that Congress was ‘unlikely’ to grab 300 plus seats in 2024 Parliamentary elections to reverse the decision of the BJP led NDA Government with regard to abrogation of Article 370 in J&K.
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In a move to counter his critics in J&K over Article 370, Azad while addressing a large public gathering at Poonch today said that the matter related to Article 370 was sub-judice before the Supreme Court of India and he would not like to comment on it. The Apex Court or the Parliament can take a review on the decision taken.
“Besides the Apex Court, only the present BJP-led Government can reverse its decision. I do not see it good to make any false promises to the people like others. We cannot promise that we will form the next Government at the Centre with 300 MPs and will revoke the August 5, 2019 decision,” the Congress leader said.
“For the revocation of this decision, the Congress needs the support of 300 plus MPs. Under present scenario, I don’t think Congress will be able to grab 300 plus Lok Sabha seats in 2024 elections. I wish, God willing, we could achieve this target, but the chances are bleak,” Azad maintained.
Without naming National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah who recently criticised the Congress party’s silence on Article 370, Azad said although the case is before the Supreme Court of India, he had opposed the move as “unconstitutional” in Parliament several times as the Leader of the Opposition.
“Some people have the habit of carrying castles in the sky. But I will never befool my people claiming that I can bring stars and moon on the earth,” Azad remarked.
Apprehending loss of jobs and land to non-locals, senior AICC leader asked the Government to bring a bill in the Union Parliament and restore statehood to J&K.
At the same time, Azad asked all the political parties to unite and put pressure on the present Government to announce the much delayed Assembly elections in J&K within a week after the restoration of statehood.
“Chief Ministership for me is meaningless at this moment when we have the biggest issue of safeguarding our land and jobs. The case is pending before the Supreme Court and nobody knows when its judgment will come but till then we cannot wait and see our jobs and land go to people not from J&K,” Azad added.
He 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.
“Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to say that we need to take more care of the border residents as they are the ones who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our forces to safeguard the country and also suffer the major brunt in case of shelling and firing,” Azad said.
Paying tribute to the people and the security forces, he said the Government should serve the people of border areas with an open heart.
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.”
He also lauded the people of Poonch district for maintaining brotherhood and communal harmony.
“We are proud of our nation which is based on secularism and binds people of different faiths together. There is complete harmony among various communities in this belt,” Azad said.
“People doing politics on the basis of religion, region, creed or caste have no right to govern the public,” he said, adding, “people can be won over by love and not by the use of power.”
Senior party leader and former Dy Chairman of J&K Legislative Council Jehangir Mir, former MLA Surankote Ch Mohd Akram and DCC Member Riaz Choudhary also spoke on the occasion.