Jammu & Kashmir wants statehood first, polls later, says former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Saturday said all Gupkar alliance parties want the statehood of Jammu & Kashmir should be restored before elections as was suggested by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

Azad spoke on behalf of everyone when he didn’t agree to the central government’s timeline of delimitation, election and statehood, Abdullah said after he returned from Delhi along with his father Farooq Abdullah who is the president of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of political parties in J&K working for restoration of special status to Jammu & Kashmir.

“Azad sahib spoke on our behalf and said that after delimitation, statehood should be restored and then they can conduct elections,” he said. “First return statehood and then we will talk about elections, and we will keep stressing on it.”

He clarified that the party has authorised Farooq Abdullah to take a decision when the Delimitation Commission calls for the next meeting.

The former chief minister said National Conference (NC) will continue to oppose the central decision to revoke Articles 370 and 35A. “We have contested the whole J&K Reorganization Act, but we cannot remain hand folded, waiting and watching from the stands till the SC (Supreme Court) verdict,” Omar Abdullah said. “If people of J&K want to heave a sigh of relief from oppression, detentions and unbridled bureaucracy, then this vehicle (political process) can run on both the tracks.”

He said both PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah told Modi at the meeting that “BJP took 70 years to get success in their decision of revoking Article 370 and even if we take 70 weeks or 70 months, or whatever time it takes, we will not leave our mission”. “We said this in absolute clear terms and the PM heard us.”

He also reiterated that NC and other parties of PAGD did not say anything outside the agenda of the alliance. “Gupkar Alliance hasn’t been undone… Nobody among PAGD told PM that we accept August 5 decisions and want to move ahead… We conveyed that people are angry and unhappy with the decision and want change,” Abdullah said.

In the meeting with Modi, only Azad and Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who clarified that he was not representing any political party, had said that the issue of Article 370 was sub judice and it should not be discussed.

“We haven’t used the word sub judice,” Abdullah said. “I don’t believe that just because it is before this SC so we can’t have discussion on it… Babri Masjid issue was before SC, did BJP stop talking about it? They continued to press their agenda for Ram temple.”

He said the onus to end mistrust between the Centre and J&K lies on New Delhi.

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