Omar Abdullah rejects Centre’s timeline, demands statehood before polls in J&K

Days after the crucial all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister on Saturday said that that political parties of J&K had conveyed to the Centre that if polls are to be held then statehood should be restored first.

Abdullah said Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had spoken on behalf of all the leaders present in the meeting that they did not accept Prime Minister Modi’s timeline, which is delimitation, election, and then statehood.

“We want delimitation, statehood and then election. If you want to hold polls, you’ll have to restore statehood first,” Omar said while addressing a joint press conference with father Farooq Abdullah. .

Prime Minister Modi on Thursday chaired three-hour long all-party meeting between key leaders — including Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah — from Jammu and Kashmir.

After the meeting, Prime Minister Modi put out a series of tweets and said the Centre’s priority was to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. “Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and J&K gets an elected Government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory,” Modi said.

However, the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, while speaking to reporters after the meeting, said they demanded the restoration of statehood first otherwise they won’t fight elections.

The all-party meeting was first such attempt to begin political process in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two separate Union territories in August 2019.

The National Conference leader said this is a demand of all the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. “Not only Mehbooba Mufti but Farooq sa’ab also said that it took 70 years for BJP to succeed in their agenda of abrogation of Article 370. We won’t back off from our mission, even if it takes us 70 weeks or 70 months or more time,” the former chief minister, who also participated in the meeting, said.

The NC leader further said that there has been no fresh approach to his party from the Delimitation Commission. He said: “As far as Delimitation Commission is concerned, the party has made it very clear – they have authorised Doctor sa’ab (Farooq Abdullah) to take a view as and when necessary. There has been no fresh approach to the National Conference from the Delimitation Commission.”

The NC is party of Gupkar Alliance, formed to fight collectively for J-K’s special status. Among the constituents are Abdullah’s NC, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, CPI (M), J-K Awami National Conference, and Jammu & Kashmir People’s Movement.

Abdullah alleged that they were not called at the meeting as an alliance. “Had that been the case, only one person from the alliance would have been invited,” the NC vice-president said.

NC chief Farooq Abdullah said the meeting with PM Modi was good and all parties had put their state of affairs in front of him. “It was the first step from his side that how can we build better circumstances in J&K and start a political process,” said Farooq Abdullah.

Last year in March, the Delimitation Commission was set up to redraw the parliamentary and assemblies constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.

In March this year, the Commission got a one-year extension from the Central government.

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