by Faiqa Masoodi

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SRINAGAR: Jammu Kashmir National Confrence (JKNC) President and five-time Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah attracted attention with his maiden visit to the Jammu Kashmir Congress office on fashionable Residency Road. He entered the posh office after Aga Ruhullah filed his nomination papers for the Srinagar LS seat.

Dr-Farooq-Abdullah-on-his-maiden-visit-to-the-Jammu-Kashmir-Congress-office-LS-Polls-2024

Dr-Farooq-Abdullah-on-his-maiden-visit-to-the-Jammu-Kashmir-Congress-office-LS-Polls-2024

“I am here at the Congress office to emphasise that our INDIA Alliance stands united, committed to safeguarding our rights and the constitution of India,” Dr Abdullah told the gathering of Congressmen, insisting his visit was aimed to underline the unity within the INDIA Alliance. “The recent speech by the PM in Rajasthan deeply troubled me. The PM, as per our constitution, should be a protector and advocate for all, irrespective of caste, creed, or colour. However, his divisive rhetoric was disheartening. His attempts to divide Indians on religious lines are concerning.”

Congress Chief welcomed Dr Abdullah to the party headquarters and asserted that Congress would lend its all possible support to JKNC in Kashmir as has been decided by the party high command in Delhi.

Abdullah in his address further said that the INDIA Alliance opposes such divisive actions and emphasised the need for unity. Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, he highlighted its aim to unite people from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. “He visited Kashmir in the snow just to convey that he wants to heal Kashmiris.”

Dr Abdullah hoped that Ruhullah would win and become a voice for all, irrespective of religion or any other divide. “I pray for the victory of the Indian alliance in Delhi. We aim to make the judiciary independent, appoint governors who serve the people, not Delhi. We will free institutions of all unworthy individuals and undo all the wrongs done by the current regime.”

Abdullah said that the alliance is unparalleled and the pride of India. “The INDIA Alliance is destined to change the regime in Delhi.”

The Congress chief extended a warm welcome to Abdullah at the Congress headquarters. “I welcome the senior-most politician of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference has stood with us in the Udhampur LS elections, and we are optimistic that Congress candidate Choudhary Lal Singh will emerge victorious. Similarly, in Jammu, JKNC supported us wholeheartedly, and we are confident that Raman Bhalla will secure the Jammu LS seat.”

He continued, expressing hope for securing the three LS Seats in Kashmir together. “All five seats of Jammu and Kashmir, along with one in Ladakh, will be won by the INDIA Alliance. We anticipate a resounding victory,” he declared.

In the following hour, Vikar Rasool was in the JKNC’s Nawai-Subh headquarters. He made a long speech to the NC cadres who had accompanied Agha from Budgam and Srinagar.

“I extend my gratitude to the veteran JK politician and courageous leader, Farooq Abdullah, for gracing us with his inaugural visit to our office. This marks my first visit as well, and I fervently hope that our alliance endures for the betterment of JK.”

He emphasised that the INDIA Alliance comprises only the NC and Congress in Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, while others merely serve as proxies for the BJP. “Parties with symbols like Apple (Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference), Bat (Altaf Bukhari’s Apni Party) and Dustbin (DPAP’s symbol is bucket) are all BJP are merely shadows of the BJP here, and we must confront these forces. Those claiming to be part of the INDIA alliance are not genuinely aligned with its principles.”

“PDP-BJP collaboration in 2014 led to deceit and disappointment for both the people and us. We had requested the PDP not to forge an alliance with the BJP and allow them entry into the political landscape of JK. The repercussions of the results we witnessed in August 2019. Had the PDP heeded our warnings, the situation would have been vastly different,” Congress Chief said.

This was for the first time in recent history that the JKNC and Congress flags were seen in the headquarters of the two parties. The two parties throughout the post-1947 history have had a love-hate relationship. It peaked at one point in time when the JKNC supported groups ensured the Congress, then called “inspects of the drains” are not given funeral prayers. The bonhomie returned post 1975 when Sheikh Abdullah became the leader of the Congress dominated house. Post 1987, both the parties have been working with each other – barring a small patch of 2002-08. Technically JKNC has given up most of Jammu region and part of Ladakh to Congress. The 2024 INDIA alliance has brought them much closer with JKNC retaining three Kashmir Lok Sabha berths and Congress having two Jammu seats and Ladakh. It is too early to predict who wins.

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