Delhi-like Statehood for J&K unacceptable: Azad

‘I can contest, win elections from anywhere’

Irfan Tramboo

SRINAGAR, Apr 3: Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) chief and former Chief Minister of J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad, today said that Delhi-like Statehood would not be acceptable to the people of J&K at any cost.
Addressing media persons at the party headquarters, Azad said that the move would be unacceptable to him and would not be acceptable to the people of J&K either, who, he said, want the traditional Statehood that has existed for ages.

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“Recent indications suggest that the Statehood might resemble that of Delhi, with the Lieutenant Governor, Chief Minister, and Law & Order under the Centre. This is going to be unacceptable,” he said.
He said that to ensure that J&K regains proper Statehood and associated safeguards similar to those in Article 35-A, “I will utilize my influence in Parliament.”
Azad said that the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A was like a lightning strike, noting that the “fight” has not yet reached a logical conclusion.
“After what we did for nearly a month, then the Government in the Parliament promised that the Statehood would be restored. However, recent indications suggest something different.”
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While talking about why he has decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Azad said that there are several reasons behind the decision, noting his innate ability to “lead from the front.”
“Whenever I was in charge in any State, I formulated and implemented programs independently. Here too, I decided to take the lead to boost the morale of the party and win the seat,” he said.
Another reason, he said, is the fact that he started his stint in the Parliament with the Lok Sabha and later moved to the Rajya Sabha.
“There, I have consistently advocated for the people of India and J&K, regardless of the government in power. I have fought the battle there and that’s what I will do in the future,” he said.
Azad also talked about working towards addressing the power crisis faced by J&K, especially during winter. “We need to address the power crisis by advancing projects like the 2000 MW thermal projects in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Azad said that when he was the CM, he initiated discussions on this matter, “but they were not pursued further, and there was no further development in this regard,” he said.
The former Chief Minister further said that the issue of Kashmiri Pandits needs to be addressed, and there was a need for going beyond mere statements. “The statements are hardly taken seriously; the actual battle must be fought in Parliament, and for that, I seek the support and cooperation of the people,” Azad said.
Responding to the criticism of the opposition leaders, especially NC Vice-President, Omar Abdullah, regarding the move of not fighting the elections in his stronghold, Chenab Valley, Azad said that he can fight from anywhere and win.
“Omar was a kid in school way back when I contested my first election in Maharashtra, followed by two more. I contested elections in areas where Muslims constituted only 5 percent of the population and won,” he said, noting that he is capable of contesting and winning from anywhere.
On the question of whether he was part of any grand alliance, Azad said: “I am not part of any grand alliance; I carve my own path. I do not obstruct anyone.”
He added: “I have my own politics and political battles, which I have been fighting in Delhi, and that’s what I intend to do here. If that disturbs anyone, what can I do about it; I cannot quit politics.”