Farooq re-elected NC president, says poll boycott was mistake

NC leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah at the party meeting in Srinagar on Monday. - Excelsior/Shakeel
NC leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah at the party meeting in Srinagar on Monday. - Excelsior/Shakeel

Battle for Art 370 will be won Constitutionally: Omar
Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Dec 5 : Former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah was today re-elected as president of the National Conference and said that his party won’t boycott elections and warned security forces and administration not to interfere in the election process in Jammu and Kashmir.
The NC presidential polls were held today at Nawa-e-Subh party headquarters in Srinagar and the announcement was made at Hazratbal.
Earlier, Dr Farooq, who has been heading the party since 1981, but on November 19 he had announced not to contest the presidential polls. The announcement was made by him just a few hours after the party officials announced elections.
After persistent requests by the leaders, Dr Abdullah announced to contest the presidential polls again during a provincial meeting of the party, held recently in Srinagar.
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A senior NC leader said that Omar Abdullah was likely to be elected as the president of the party but he was not interested and wanted his father to head the party at the crucial juncture.
Meanwhile, DAP chief and former CM Ghulam Nabi Azad has congratulated Dr Farooq Abdullah on his re-election as NC president.
While addressing thousands of NC workers and leaders on 117th birth anniversary of party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the newly elected president said that his party will never opt to go for a poll boycott.
Farooq said that boycotting Panchayat polls earlier in Jammu and Kashmir was a mistake. “I don’t believe in boycotting elections. We will contest every election,” he said.
He also asked his son Omar to reconsider his decision of boycotting the polls, saying: “I as a president am telling you to fight elections, come forward to win. Elections are to be fought. We have to come in the field and defeat the forces who are harassing people across Jammu and Kashmir.”
The NC president said that the people at the helm of affairs should stop harassing people and also ensure justice is done with Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh as the people here have faced tremendous hardships.
“People have given a lot of sacrifices so far and nobody can forget the sacrifices made by the martyrs,” he added.
Dr Abdullah said the BJP “will do anything, even make attempts to buy your loyalties, but God will fail all their designs”.
Reacting to the previous polls in Jammu and Kashmir, he appealed to the security forces and administration not to interfere in elections process in the Union Territory.
“Otherwise there will be such a storm which you will not be able to control,” he said.
Dr Abdullah also threatened to launch an agitation in case the elections are rigged here.
“We will be ready to sacrifice our lives. Farooq Abdullah will be the first to start an agitation over it,” he said.
“Our identity has been snatched. The people from Jammu have realized that Article 370 was not meant for Kashmiris only. They have realized that the people from outside are presently holding key positions in different departments,” he said.
He also appealed to people to maintain communal harmony.
Reacting to his re-election as party president, he said that there is a need to push youth to come forward to strengthen the party.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah while addressing the gathering said that the battle against the abrogation of Article 370 will be won Constitutionally. “Out motive is clear and we will win this battle legally,” he said.
Omar said his party has mounted a legal challenge to the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and he believed that the special status to Jammu and Kashmir will be restored.
“But, we will not lose our calm, we will fight it the right way and God willing, and this is what my heart says, we will succeed in this fight,” Omar said.
The NC vice president asked his party men not to worry. “We will not kneel or beg but seek the rights of the people of J&K. We will not beg them for security or a bungalow, nor a vehicle or something else. We are only seeking the dignity of J&K, its prosperity, and its identity. God willing, the day is not far when we will succeed in this fight as well and then present ourselves before the people,” he added.
Omar said the NC as a political party has fought many political battles but “I am seeing this kind of a battle for the first time”.
The NC Vice president said it was one thing if the party’s fight was against the BJP or its ‘B” or “C” teams only, but “the administration is also fighting us”.
“They are after us. They give trouble to our colleagues. There was a time when the decision to provide security was taken on the threat perception because of militancy. Today, the decision is taken on the threat perception for the BJP rather than that of the militants. The security is provided on seeing which party is a threat to the BJP. More the threat to the BJP, the lesser the security,” he said.
Omar said many of his senior leaders have been attacked a number of times but have lesser security now.
“But those who are close to the administration and to the BJP have far more security and vehicles because the BJP has no threat from them,” he said adding, “we are not the ones to be afraid”.
“Those who have God and the people with them, those who have firm intentions, good intentions, and those who do not keep the people in dark, they do not need to fear anything. God willing, we will take this state out of this tribulation,” he said.
Dr Abdullah said if anyone wants to see the power of the NC, “then they should see this programme”.
“A ‘sarkari jalsa’ is easy where vehicles, microphones, stage, food are provided by the Government. Those raising slogans are also sarkari – some of them Village-Level Workers or something else. The Government issues orders to its employees to attend the rally,” he said, apparently referring to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally in Baramulla in October.
“Today, no one here is a Government employee, no Government vehicle has been provided, no money has been given,” he said.
Referring to the recent public meeting of the Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari, Omar said an event like this can be “arranged by spending money”.
“We have seen such rallies where crores of rupees were spent, but the gates were locked before the speech so that the people do not go away,” he said, without taking any names.
“Today’s meeting is proof of the love you have for the party. God is witness that the party has not provided a single penny for any vehicle. If the people came here, they came because of their love. Fortunate is the party which has dedicated workers like you who left everything else and reached here on their own expenses to make this (programme) a success.
“God should help us to come up to your expectations and take out J&K from this morass and make it a prosperous J&K – the dream of which we all see,” he said.
Quipping over his father’s energy levels, Omar said “he (Farooq) is elder to me, he is my father. But, sometimes, I think I am older than him”.
“He (Farooq) exerts more than me and I can tell you that today’s programme has lent glucose (energy) of three years to him,” the NC vice president said.