Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former leader of the Congress, launched his political agenda in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Sunday. He called for the restoration of statehood but stressed that he would not mislead the public with empty promises.
Speaking at his first rally in the Union Territory after leaving the Congress, Azad blasted critics who claim he has been silent on the statehood question. On August 5, 2019, the Center terminated the state’s unique constitutional status under Article 370 and divided it into two Union territories.
Some leaders have asked me why I don’t speak on Article 370 today. Ghulam Nabi Azad will never intentionally mislead the public to gain support. One thousand individuals have already died here, leaving 50,000 widows, four to five lakh orphans, and one thousand. Many people lost their homes. Leaders shouldn’t make such statements [on topics] that are out of their control, he remarked at the demonstration in Baramulla’s Dak Bungalow neighbourhood.
A dozen former Congress lawmakers and ministers surrounded Azad as he declared that the name of his political party would be revealed in 10 days.
On August 26, Azad announced her resignation from the Congress, citing senior leader Rahul Gandhi for a downturn in the party’s decision-making process. At least 12 lawmakers and 1,500 leaders left the Congress to support Azad.
The seasoned politician, who earlier served as chief minister of the former state of J&K, declared on Sunday that he will fight for the restoration of statehood as well as for the citizens’ property and business rights. “Today, even outside labourers and contractors come to J&K to work. Where will the citizens go?” he asked.
According to Azad, a two-thirds majority in Parliament is necessary to restore J&K’s statehood, which implies that the party needs to hold more than 350 Lok Sabha seats. The number of members of the Congress has not exceeded 50 throughout the past ten years. How therefore can I deceive the public into believing that “I will restore Article 370”? Where can I purchase those MPs? ”
The Congress, he said, had 73 seats in the Rajya Sabha when he was elected, but since then, it had been losing seats. “The party lost elections in every state, and the number of representatives dropped to 30-32. There will be 20 members of Congress by the next year. Additionally, I need 175 votes in the Rajya Sabha to restore Article 370. Where will I find those figures? Leaders who advocate for the reinstatement of Article 370 must to consider whether they can secure their own seats, he said.
He asserted that those making assertions about the problem were doing so to deceive. Azad claimed that the plan was to “create another ground for agitation, death, and devastation.”
“My politics will be founded on truth, whether I win or lose. Many people have donated blood. I will now give my blood for them if people support me, he continued.
Altaf Bukhari, the head of the Apni Party, was one of the individuals who criticised Azad for not doing more to defend J&K’s statehood and special status in the Rajya Sabha.
Despite the fact that Ghulam avoided mentioning Bukhari or any other leader at his speech on Sunday, he urged those who were not familiar with how the Upper House operated to hold their tongues.
Speaking about the period immediately following August 5, 2019, Azad claimed he made numerous unsuccessful attempts to get to J&K. I was forbidden. I visited Srinagar twice, one with a delegation from the legislature, but we were sent back from the airport. In the end, I went to the Supreme Court, and I was only permitted to travel to Jammu, Srinagar, Baramulla, and Anantnag on the court’s instructions,” he claimed.
Azad discussed the numerous development projects carried out at the time, including the establishment of new districts, medical colleges, roads, bridges, Tulip Garden, new assembly complex, Hajj house, and Yatri bhawan, among others. Azad spoke about his time as CM of J&K from 2005 to 2008 and as Union health minister from 2009 to 2014.
Former MLA Shoaib Lone remarked of the rally: “For us, it was a successful rally. Despite the rain, many people showed up to hear Azad’s address. It’s a promising start for “team Azad” from north Kashmir, and once additional rallies are conducted around the Valley, the pace will pick up.
Sheikh Amir, a spokesman for the Congress, called Azad’s gathering a “flop show.”
“Whatever Azad stated today (Sunday), it was in conflict with what he declared in Parliament following the revocation of Article 370. To the extent that Azad was able to become the chief minister of J&K and afterwards the [Union] health minister, it was entirely due to the Congress government.
According to Altaf Thakur, a spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party, Azad solely supported what the BJP was stating regarding Article 370. It is currently dead. The NC [National Conference] and the PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] ought to respond rationally as to how they intend to reinstate this Article at this time. People have seen reality thanks to Azad.