Congress-NC alliance has failed to trickle down to ground level: Azad

Says Separatists should join mainstream

SRINAGAR: Expressing regrets that the spirit of alliance between Congress and National Conference has not trickled down, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader and union minister for health and family welfare said the field level workers of his party have been neglected to the hilt.

In an exclusive interview with KNS, Mr Azad observed: “One thing which I feel is that our alliance has not trickled down to the ground level. Alliances which trickle down to the ground level always succeed.”

The veteran Congress leader said he has no grudges against Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah or for that matter with any National Conference minister. “They (NC leadership) are all friends and I have a good relation with them. But whenever I convene meetings, or meet people the feedback I get from our workers and people is that the alliance has remained confined to the top level leadership of the two parties and has not percolated to the ground level.”

Mr Azad remarked that for any political party (PDP, NC, Congress, BJP), their strength lies in their field level workers. “No matter how iconic leaders we are but our strength lie in our workers. If our workers are neglected, dejected or weak then we are weak. I think our workers have been ignored to the hilt. And the alliance has not addressed their grievances that too in time. And I don’t blame NC only but the onus equally lies on our ministers in the government. Because the alliance has not benefited our ground level workers.”

The former chief minister said the alliances should reach to the ground level and should come out from top leadership cocoons. “The alliances should reach to the lower level on the ground; at community level, village, block and district level and should not remain confined to the top leadership and the cabinet alone. This issue could have been sorted out mutually. Our ministers should have raised this in the cabinet. I don’t think state cabinet has discussed this important issue anytime. I get the feedback from all the regions and rural areas, meet people everywhere in the state which suggest that coordination between the two coalition partners is low.”

On pre-poll alliance between Congress and the National Conference for forthcoming parliamentary elections,   Mr Azad said: “Almost all our party units in the state want that these elections be contested separately… And we are here to advocate and put forth the aspirations of our block, district level units, our MLAs and ministers before the party high command. We will take forward the opinion of our workers from the ground.”

Asked about the nominations of three candidates for parliamentary elections made by the National Conference, the union health minister said: “The NC’s announcement of its three Parliamentary candidates is perhaps in the backdrop of our last seat sharing agreement.  We had an alliance with NC some four and a half years ago wherein three seats were given to NC in Valley. And the other seats including that of Ladakh were taken by Congress. Perhaps they (NC) thought this alliance will continue so they have announced the names of their three candidates.”

Mr Azad said that it has now become an established fact that no party can form a government on its own at national level or the state level especially in Jammu and Kashmir. “It is now a proven fact in the country especially in J&K since 1996 and 2002 respectively.” He however, said that big regional political parties will a big role in the government formation.

“Assembly elections in the state are not a priority for us right now. There is almost one year left till the assembly elections in J&K and Congress has not focused on those elections because we are focusing on forthcoming parliamentary elections presently.”

Refuting the reports of lobbyism in state Congress committee, Mr Azad said that these reports are totally untrue. “We have not shared the dais for the first time here. I think people expect us to be together always which is not possible for us all the time.  We have been assigned different roles. Prof Soz Sahib has to look after the state party affairs and I have been assigned the health department where I have to take care of the national level healthcare. But whenever we get the chance we jointly participate in the party meetings.”

On talks with separatists, the union health minister said: “Dialogue with whom? There is no single leader in separatist camp. Best for them is to participate in elections and join the mainstream. And yes they can keep their viewpoint before the public and help in governance. When voices of dissent in Mizoram, Assam and Punjab can join the mainstream and form the government why not the separatists in J&K?”

Asked about the impact of recent defeat faced by the Congress in four states, Mr Azad observed that his party has lost only in one state as the BJP was already in power in three other states. “Success and defeat is a part of politics. Congress was defeated this year. But two years ago we snatched three states Uttrakhand, HP, Karnataka from BJP. This year they snatched only one state that is Rajhasthan. If we see the results with cumulative approach then BJP has snatched one state from us because they were ruling the other three states already.”

Asked if there is anything for Congress to learn from Aam Admi Party (AAP), Mr Azad observed that time will prove everything. “Congress has nothing to learn from AAP. Time is to see what this party will learn from Congress within a year. Sofar it (AAP) has passed a test in theory; let us see how it passes the practices.”

Regarding his ministry and its support to Jammu and Kashmir healthcare department, Mr Azad said that he has increased the budgetary allocations in health sector for the state but he found it insufficient to meet out the requirements. “Now I have doubled the budgetary allocations for J&K which remain unchanged.” (KNS)

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