At Kashmir Rally Azad Slams Parties For Promising Restoration Of Art 370

File Photo Of Ghulam Nabi Azad

Says will announce formation of new party within 10 days

Baramulla- As he prepares to launch his political party, former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday slammed those promising the restoration of Article 370 even though it was not in their hands and said he would not mislead the people over the issue.

In his maiden rally in Kashmir Valley after quitting the Congress last month, he said only a government with a two-thirds majority in Parliament can ensure the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Azad knows what can and cannot be done. I or the Congress party or the regional parties cannot give you back Article 370, neither can (TMC chief) Mamata Banerjee, or DMK or (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar,” the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said.

The former Union minister said he would not raise issues over which he has no control.

“Some people have been saying that I don’t talk about Article 370. I want to tell them that Azad does not befool people for electoral gains,” he said at the public meeting at Dak Bungalow Baramulla in north Kashmir.

“I swear before God that I will not mislead you. I will not raise such slogans or issues over which I have no control,” he said.

Azad said only a party with a two-thirds majority in Parliament can restore the special status of the erstwhile state which was revoked by the Centre in August 2019.

“Congress party hasn’t been able to achieve more than 50 Lok Sabha seats in the last ten years. Let God help them. But, I have been in politics, and I don’t think the Congress party can get over 350 seats in my lifetime. Its strength is decreasing in Rajya Sabha with every state loss,” he said.

“Where from can I get it? Where can I get those votes needed in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha? Why mislead people? So, tell me who is lying? Me, or they?” he added.

Azad said it is another betrayal with the people of J-K when some parties say they will restore Article 370.

This is a material for another agitation. Till Azad is alive, he will have to be killed to kill his ideology. I will not allow the people to be used for electoral gains on the basis of religion…. whether I win or not, whether I secure four votes or lakhs of them, he said.

Much blood has spilled, but if you support me, the blood will be mine now, he said.

The former J-K chief minister said he would not promise the moon and stars to the people but only the things that are achievable like the restoration of statehood.

Statehood can be achieved because there is no constitutional amendment needed We don’t need a two-thirds majority for that. Our lands should be ours only and no outsiders should be able to own them.

“Our jobs should be ours only. Parliament is not needed for these two issues. So, I talk only about those things which can be achieved, he said.

He said political parties should not raise those slogans whose resolution is not in their hands or the hands of the people.

Referring to Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari’s allegation that Azad had voted in favour of the abrogation of Article 370, he said Bukhari should first understand how Parliament works.

“I have been in the Parliament for 40 years. Let him be there for 10-20 years so that he understands against whom to vote. I voted against the Bill brought by the Home Ministry for the revocation of Article 370,” Azad said.

Those who do not know about Parliament should talk less about it. It is better if they do not speak about it, he added.

He said had he not been an MP or the leader of the opposition, there would have been no one to raise the voice of the people of J-K in Parliament.

Some people, he pointed out, say they went to jail for not supporting the revocation of Article 370, but Azad did not.

Had I been here (in Kashmir), I too would have been jailed But, it did not stop me. I came to Srinagar and Jammu twice but was not allowed to move from the airports. Then I approached the Supreme Court for sharing the pain of the people of J-K, he said.

Will announce formation of new party within 10 days: Azad

Ghulam Nabi Azad, who recently parted ways with the Congress, on Sunday said he will announce the formation of his new political party within 10 days and asserted that its ideology will be “independent”.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said the agenda of the new political outfit would be to struggle for the restoration of J and K’s statehood and to fight for the job and land rights of people.

“I thank my colleagues who stand with me and are the base of my new party which, God willing, will be announced within the next 10 days,” Azad said addressing his maiden public rally in the Kashmir Valley after resigning from the Congress on August 26.

Speaking at a public meeting at Dak Bunglow in Baramulla in north Kashmir where he was accorded a warm welcome by supporters on his arrival, Azad said his new party will be ‘Azad’ (independent), like his name, in its ideology and thinking.

“My party will be Azad. Many of my colleagues said we should name the party as Azad. But, I said never. But, it’s ideology will be independent, which will not join or merge with any other. That may happen after my death, but not till then,” he said.

The former leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha said the emphasis will be to struggle for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood and protection of job and land rights of its people.

“My party will be development-oriented. Its agenda will be to give employment opportunities to the people,” he added, as he reminded people of his developmental works when he was the chief minister of J-K.

Azad said he was not against any political party, whether national or regional.

“Many people across party lines are my friends,” he said.

Referring to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s famous speech in which he had asked people to give him blood and in return he will give them freedom, Azad appealed the people of J-K that he will spill his blood for them if they support him.

“But, I request you not to fall prey to false slogans,” he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Parliament when Azad retired from the Rajya Sabha, the former Congress leader said “a human being does get emotional”.

“When I was the chief minister of J-K, some tourists from Gujarat were killed by militants. I got emotional and wept when I saw the pieces of their bodies lying there, their children hugged me and were crying. I am a human being.

“Modi was the CM of Gujarat then. He called me several times. My PA told him that I was weeping and cannot talk and will talk to him later. He kept calling several times in the day. When in the evening, I sent their bodies back, the children again hugged me. I was weeping and talked to Modi who had called to know if the bodies were sent, he said.

That is why, Modi got emotional when I retired from the Rajya Sabha. He remembered that incident. But, he (Modi) did not say that he cannot digest his food without me or that he cannot fall sleep without me, Azad said.

“The people of Kashmir should take pride in Modi’s remarks, about what he said about the humanity and the hospitality of the people of Kashmir. But, the leaders of Congress have never asked me about that. Because they do not have a heart. They use you and throw you away. Those leaders of opposition whom I have abused, have respected my humanity, my honesty and my work. So, what is wrong in that,” he said.

Azad, 73, ended his five-decade-long association with the Congress on August 26, terming the party “comprehensively destroyed”. He had lashed out at former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for “demolishing” the party’s entire consultative mechanism.

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