Restore J-K statehood, then hold polls: Omar Abdullah

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister on Saturday said that political parties of the region had conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that if polls are to be held then statehood should be restored first.

Photograph: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com

“Azad saab (Ghulam Nabi Azad) had spoken on behalf of all of us that we don’t accept this timeline — we don’t accept delimitation, election, statehood, we want delimitation, statehood and then election. If you want to hold polls, you’ll have to restore statehood first,” said Omar Abdullah.

After Thursday’s three-hour long all-party meeting between Jammu and Kashmir leaders chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposition parties have demanded the restoration of statehood first otherwise they won’t fight elections.

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,” Omar Abdullah said.

Omar Abdullah further said that there has been no fresh approach to the National Conference from the Delimitation Commission.

“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,” he said.

The National Conference leader alleged that they were not called at the meeting as an alliance.

“We were not called there (at PM’s all party meet) as an alliance. Had that been the case, only one person from the alliance would have been invited. We did not say anything at the meet that is outside agenda of Gupkar Alliance,” said National Conference vice president.

While addressing the joint press conference the National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said that meeting with PM Narendra Modi was good and all parties have put their state of affairs in front of him. “Meeting with PM Narendra Modi was good. Parties have 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.

Prime Minister Modi chaired the all-party meeting which was attended by 14 prominent leaders from the Union territory.

This was the first high-level interaction between the Centre and political leadership mainly from Kashmir since August 5, 2019, when the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the state was bifurcated into two union territories.

Earlier in March this year, the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, which was set up in March 2020 to redraw the parliamentary and assemblies constituencies, got a one-year extension from the Central government.

The delimitation panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, was set up only for one year. Later, the panel got a gazette notification was issued by the Union ministry of law and justice on March 3, 2021, in this regard. 

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