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Omar Abdullah On Contesting Jammu And Kashmir Polls


Omar Abdullah said he will lead his party’s campaign for J&K’s polls (File)

Srinagar:

National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah ruled out the possibility of him contesting the Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls but said would lead his party’s election campaign.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister also said he would not humiliate himself by entering the legislature of a Union Territory (UT).

On his defeat in the Lok Sabha election to jailed contestant Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid in Baramulla, Mr Abdullah said that in electoral politics, one must be ready for a loss as well.

“If you set aside the fact that I lost, I think, on the whole, the NC has a lot to be satisfied for… As far as my seat is concerned, how can I be anything but disappointed? But that is electoral politics for you. If you are not prepared to lose, you should not file your papers. I cannot say the result was on the expected lines. But it is what it is,” he said.

The NC leader said he will lead his party’s campaign for Jammu and Kashmir’s assembly elections.

“No, I am not contesting the assembly elections. I will not fight a UT election. I am absolutely clear on that. I will help my party, I will lead the campaign. I will do whatever I have to for the NC. But I will not enter an assembly of the UT of J&K,” he said.

“I will fight for our statehood to be restored to us. I will fight for a full state of J&K with no dilution. Then, if possible, I will seek an opportunity to enter the assembly and play my part there. But, I will not humiliate myself by entering a UT (assembly),” the NC vice president said.

In 2019, the Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Asked if he was hopeful for early restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir as the BJP did not get a majority on its own in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, Mr Abdullah said the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have made a commitment to this effect both inside and outside Parliament.

While Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister and his council of ministers took oath on Saturday, portfolios are yet to be assigned. When the Article was abrogated, Amit Shah was the Union Home Minister.

“I would like to believe that the commitments of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister mean something. They have committed to statehood both inside and outside Parliament. Unless they want the whole world to question their credibility, I am sure they will fulfil what they said,” the NC leader said.

On the assembly elections, Mr Abdullah said he would not have been so hopeful had the Supreme Court not directed that polls be held by September 30.

“I would not have been as hopeful of assembly elections and statehood even if the BJP was not reduced to a minority government or the coalition government at the Centre. The elections are happening not because the BJP wants the elections, but because the Supreme Court ordered them,” he said.

In the general elections, the BJP on its own won 240 seats and formed a government with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners.

Mr Abdullah said that while he was satisfied with the NC’s performance, it was hard for him not to take the loss in Baramulla personally.

“The biggest challenge for us right now as a party is to get a bit of morale back. The truth is that this election loss has hit us all hard, some harder than others. It is difficult for me not to take this loss personally. But it is what it is. The NC did really well, I want my party cadre to realise that we may have lost one Parliament seat, but as a party, we did a phenomenal job against the tsunami in north Kashmir, nobody could have done better,” he said.

“So, I think we need to focus on the positives. The positive is that we are by far the single largest party in J&K, we have the largest vote share. We will carry this momentum to the assembly. Now, the unknown factors will be what Engineer Rashid will do and how that will translate on the ground,” he said.

Mr Abdullah dismissed the suggestion that the outcome of the polls in Kashmir was personality-driven rather than party agenda-driven, saying nobody wins a parliamentary election on their personality.

“You win it because of the organisation. You win it because of the campaign that you run. I think Aga Ruhullah (NC winner from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat) and Mian Altaf Ahmad (NC winner from Anantnag-Rajouri seat) would be the first people to tell you that. Of course, they were strong candidates. But they also had a strong party behind them,” he said.

Mr Abdullah said they were able to get votes from the areas that they did not expect, and in numbers that they did not expect. “So, their personalities definitely helped us. How could they not? But, it is not just personality,” he added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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