Won’t be CM, Omar will be NC’s CM face in Assembly polls: Farooq

NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and other party leaders at an election rally at Bahu Fort on Sunday.
NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and other party leaders at an election rally at Bahu Fort on Sunday.

‘Modi is in danger, not country’
NC open to alliance on its conditions: Omar

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Mar 17: In a significant decision, National Conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah, who had held the posts of Chief Minister of J&K and Union Minister, today announced that he will not become CM of the State and declared his son and party working president Omar Abdullah as party’s Chief Ministerial face in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Omar, in the meantime, announced that the National Conference was open to pre-poll alliance with the Congress provided the latter agreed to NC’s seat sharing formula for Lok Sabha polls.
Farooq and Omar were in Jammu and Anantnag districts respectively in connection with two separate party functions. Click here to watch video
Addressing a party rally at Bahu Fort while kick-starting the party campaign for Lok Sabha elections, Farooq declared that he will not become Chief Minister of the State and will go to the Parliament to project voice of Jammu and Kashmir there while Omar Abdullah (NC working president) will be the NC’s Chief Ministerial candidate in the Assembly elections.
“I will represent Jammu and Kashmir in Parliament. I will not be the Chief Minister. Omar Abdullah will be the Chief Minister as he is young and I am getting old. I can’t match energy of young people as Omar can,” Abdullah said in the rally attended by party’s Lok Sabha candidate for Jammu-Poonch seat, BR Kundal, Devender Singh Rana and Tarlochan Singh Wazir among others.
Farooq Abdullah, it may be mentioned, is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Srinagar-Budgam seat. He is also the sitting MP from Srinagar though he had lost the Parliamentary election from the same constituency in 2014 to then PDP candidate Tariq Hamid Karra. He had retained the seat in April 2017 by-poll after Karra had resigned the Lok Sabha seat as well as the PDP and joined Congress.
Farooq said the country is not in danger but it was (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, who was in danger and was, therefore, dividing people not only in the name of religion but also on the basis of caste.
“The country is not in danger. It’s Modi who is in danger,” Farooq remarked.
Accusing the BJP of dividing the people and spreading hatred in the country, he said that the country had to be strengthened within and there was a need to fight “polarization, hatred and injustice”.
He asked the people to support those candidates who could run the country based on the principle of equality. Farooq countered allegations that the National Conference discriminated against Jammu and Ladakh regions, a charge quite often leveled by the BJP and some other organizations.
In a veiled dig at the BJP, he said the State emblem of ‘Lotus’ was testimony that the State never discriminated against anyone unlike the party, which shared the lotus emblem, and was “dividing people on the basis of religion and spreading hatred”.
“Let us pray for unity and love, let us pray that those people come to power (at the Centre) who can understand the pain of the people and do not only raise slogans as slogans cannot run this country,” he said. Without naming the BJP, Abdullah alleged that the party had purchased television channels and newspaper offices and “unleashed propaganda to mislead the people”.
Slamming the BJP and the RSS for accusing him of being a Pakistani, he said recently his party worker was killed because he was holding the tricolor.
Continuing his tirade against the BJP-led NDA, Dr Abdullah claimed that when CRPF personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh, no one from the BJP visited them to offer floral tributes.
On the Ram temple issue, Farooq asked the Centre who was stopping it from constructing the shrine at the disputed site in Ayodhya. “Muslims are not against the temple’s construction but they (leaders) are using the issue to spread hatred and divide people. Does Ram belong only to Hindus? Your books teach that he belonged to everyone, just like Muslims believe that Allah is not only for Muslims but for the entire world,” he said.
He hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking what happened to the poll promises made by his party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“Today I want to ask Modi whether inflation has come down or increased for petrol and diesel during his rule. What happened to the promise of two crore jobs each year and how many from the State got employment in the past five years? What happened to the promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh to the account of each family,” he asked. “How long will we hear this falsehood?”, the former Chief Minister asked. Abdullah said Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan had resulted in injustice to the State as “we are not able to use our water resources to the advantage of the people”. “It (Centre) was planning to stop the flow of the river Chenab to Pakistan but reality dawned upon them because it is not possible given the treaty,” he said. Dr Abdullah criticized the BJP for not completing any project to ensure drinking water to the people of Jammu who have to buy it for daily use.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah today said that his party is open to a pre-poll alliance with the Congress if they agreed to NC’s seat sharing formula for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a party rally in Anantnag district, Omar said: “When it comes to the alliance with Congress, it is true that we received a proposal from Congress but we clearly told them that on three seats of the Valley, there will be NC’s candidates and if it suits them, then we will talk about other seats. Now, we will see what would be their answer.”
Omar criticized the Central Government for not holding the Assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in the State. “It amounts to denying the people of the State their democratic right to form an elected Government,” he said.
Omar said that some political parties and bureaucrats are responsible for the delay in the holding of Assembly elections in the State.
“Yes we are ready for the elections. When we met with the Election Commission in Srinagar and Jammu, we clearly told them that there should be simultaneous polls of Assembly and Parliament but with a conspiracy, people here are being deprived of an elected Government and unfortunately some officers and political parties are hand in glove in it”, he said.
The former Chief Minister said that he was shocked when he found that the election in Anantnag Parliamentary seat is being held in three phases.
“I was shocked when the calendar of elections came out. There are some big States in the country where there are 20 to 30 Parliament seats and elections are being conducted on one day only but on South Kashmir’s one Parliament seat, voting will be on three days,” he said.
He added that it was pointless to expect any forward movement towards the resolution of the Kashmir problem till the Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections were over.
Commenting on the ban and the subsequent crackdown on the cadres of the Jamaat-e-Islami in the State, Omar said that he never felt the need to ban the Jamaat when he was the Chief Minister of J&K.
“We have taken a public position on this issue. This ban on Jamat-e-Islami is inexplicable. I have been Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir for six years and at no point did I feel during those six years that there was a need to ban on Jamat-e-Islami and things were far more peaceful. How is it possible that things were peaceful when Jamat-e-Islami was allowed to carry out activities but unfortunately we are dealing the repercussions of the alliance of BJP with the PDP which took place in 2015 and this State is suffering on that account”, said the former Chief Minister.
Commenting on the launch of a new political party by former IAS officer Shah Faesal, Omar said it remains to be seen whether the new party would have something new to offer to the people.
“Parties come and go. Shah Faesal has formed a party now. We will see what will be his stand and agenda, what will he talk different than other parties and what will he do for the Jammu and Kashmir issue and accession as after he left the Government job, he talked about many things. We will see if these things would be introduced in his agenda”, Omar said.
Asked about the statement regarding the Shah Faesal’s party having Centre’s backing, Omar said that after NC passed autonomy resolution in Assembly, PDP was formed and now they are trying to create further division here.
“This is happening continuously from the year 2000, when NC in the Assembly passed the resolution of autonomy with two-third majority and PDP was given birth. From that day, efforts are being made to divide the voice of people. It is an undeniable fact”, he said.
Meanwhile, former Principal District and Sessions Judge, Syed Tawqeer Ahmad who recently quit the Government service, joined the National Conference during Omar’s rally in Anantnag today.
During his address, Syed lauded former Chief Minster and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah for his “leadership skills”. He said Omar had been an inspiration for him to join politics.
Syed said the sole motive of his joining the politics was to “bring development in the area.”