Restoration of Statehood, protection of jobs, lands of locals my priority: Ch Lal Singh

‘Will reach out to last man of my constituency’

Gopal Sharma

A well known name in the political horizon of Jammu and Kashmir- Ch Lal Singh, considered to be a strong candidate of Congress Party from Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary constituency, is facing Dr Jitendra Singh (Union Minister), a very strong candidate and two times MP of the BJP from this constituency.
While talking to the Excelsior, Ch Lal Singh, a two times former MP and ex Health and Forest Minister in J&K Government, listed his priorities for his people and also agenda of his party if voted to power. Expressing sorry state of affairs in the Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370, former MP said restoration of Statehood, protection of jobs and lands of the local people will be his and his party’s priority if they come to power.
Referring to the ‘virtual plunder’ of the local resources like- sand, stones and gravel besides other minerals like Gypsum and Lithium etc, Ch Lal Singh said the loot of local resources will come to an end and local officers and other employees will be placed at key positions if he comes to power. The Congress candidate alleged that unfortunately the Rattle Hydel Power Project of Chenab region, a joint venture of NHPC and J&K Power Development Corporation has been handed over to a Rajasthan based company on the lease of 40 years. The local youths are being deprived of the jobs in these projects.

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Former MP said many unskilled youth from Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar and hilly areas of Udhampur and Kathua are working in other States like Himachal, Punjab and Uttarakhand. If he is voted to power, he will force roads, tunnels, hydel power construction companies to provide jobs to the local youths. He said daily wagers, contractual employees, Asha and Anganwadi workers and helpers will be his priority. The local engineering graduates are not getting jobs. The contractors are sitting idle. Even petty jobs are being allotted to the contractors from other sSates. The J&K Government is denying bills worth hundreds of crores of the local contractors. He will fight for their rights, if voted to power, Lal Singh asserted.
When asked his party’s stand on Statehood and Art 370, Ch Lal Singh said on Statehood his party’s stand is very clear. “On Art 370 I will discuss the issue with his party leaders. But at least the Government of India can provide rights under Art 371 to J&K, which is prevalent in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam etc. The question is to protect the identity of the Dogras and other people of our State. We will continue our fight for the rights of our people,” he added.
On being asked about the prospects of the G M Saroori of Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Party- DPAP, Ch Lal Singh said, ” Even Azad could not win from this seat of his home constituency, what the difference Saroori could make here? It would have been appreciable if Azad had filed his nomination from here. Every body knows, Azad and his party is not here for winning seats but to support BJP indirectly. DPAP will not be able to grab much votes and make much difference for him, ” Lal Singh added.
Replying to a question on the support of his alliance partners, Ch Lal Singh said they all including National Conference are doing very well in their respective areas and he was satisfied with their performance. He also referred to the support of Dr Manohal Lal and Harshdev Singh.
When asked about the delimitation of the Lok Sabha constituencies and exclusion of Reasi and Katra besides combining Rajouri-Poonch with Anantnag in Kashmir, Ch Lal Singh said it is great injustice with the people and very unfair distribution. Combining two districts of Rajouri and Poonch with Anantnag is very wrong. “It is no match to combine our (Jammu region’s) two districts with those of two in Kashmir. Though he had good influence in Katra and Reasi but leaving aside personal gains, at least Reasi district should have been combined with Rajouri and Poonch. Moreover, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban can be one Lok Sabha constituency,” the former MP maintained.
While referring to the controversy raised by ‘some political leaders’ regarding his role over Rasana case, Ch Lal Singh said there was no controversy at all. There were some vested interests who raised the controversy. They wanted investigation by local agency while we and majority of people from Kathua and Samba were demanding CBI probe. “We wanted justice for the innocent minor girl. If people were not satisfied by local police or Crime Branch, at least CBI probe should have been ordered. CBI is our Indian agency not from Pakistan. What was the problem to some people over it. We were very clear that justice should be meted out to the girl’s family and any innocent should not be punished,” Ch Lal Singh asserted.
It is pertinent to mention here that Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency, having 16.85 lakh votes and an area of 20,230 sq kms, now has 18 Assembly segments, including six in Kathua, four in Udhampur, three each in Doda and Kishtwar and two in Ramban, while Reasi has now been excluded. During 2004, Ch Lal Singh as Cong candidate registered his first win from this constituency by defeating BJP’s Prof Chaman Lal Gupta ( A sitting Union Minister) with the margin of 47,175 votes. Second time, during 2009 he defeated BJP’s Dr Nirmal Singh with the margin of 13,394 votes. This will be his third entry to the Lok Sabha if he wins against Dr Jitendra Singh.