SRINAGAR: Congress scion Rahul Gandhi along with party leaders from Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday pitched for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir along with subsequent elections while not even mentioning the restoration of Article 370 and 35-A.
Gandhi, who inaugurated the party office in Moulana Azad Road in Srinagar, said that he would continue to fight for the restoration of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and believes that elections should be held at the earliest. The Gandhi family scion had flown to Srinagar to attend the wedding reception of Ghulam Ahmad Mir’s son on Monday. Mir heads Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mir’s wedding was a political assembly where people from diverse political formations were invited. Gandhi was seen sharing a table and the table talk with Dr Karan Singh and Dr Farooq Abdullah.
In the morning Gandhi drove to Kheer Bhawani temple at Tulmulla and to Dargah Hazratbal before making a speech at the Congress office.
“The relationship of my family with Jammu and Kashmir goes back very far. My message here is of love and respect for the people of Kashmir because what can be achieved through them, can’t be done through the use of forces,” Gandhi said.
He said that there was an indirect attack on other states of India while Jammu and Kashmir was facing a direct attack of the “central” government.
However, in his entire speech, Gandhi didn’t touch upon the August 5, 2019 happenings. He chose to not mention the word Article 370 in his speech.
Earlier, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in his speech also pitched for restoration of statehood and subsequent elections along with stating that Article 35-A wasn’t required in toto but only its clauses guaranteeing jobs and land rights to locals.
“Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh also have same protections. Northeastern states also. Jammu and Kashmir has suffered in the past three years.”
While detailing how he and other politicians from other parts of the country weren’t allowed to enter Jammu and Kashmir post-August 5, Azad also chose not to speak for restoration of Article 370.
“It was a day we all must forget because otherwise many people would still die of heart attacks. Jammu and Kashmir needs full statehood where a Lieutenant Governor doesn’t adjudge the decisions of the cabinet like in Delhi or Pondicherry,” Azad said while asking Rahul Gandhi to demand statehood from union government during the ongoing parliament session whose three days of business are still left.
“Full statehood before elections is required because otherwise, some parties might not fight elections. It is national interest.”
Like Gandhi and Azad, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress President Ghulam Ahmad Mir also in his speech didn’t bring up Article 370 restoration.
While praising Gandhi, Mir said that Congress was ready to fight elections whenever declared.
“It was only the Congress party which came out with a resolution against whatever happened in 2019 on the very next day,” Mir said, adding that Congress demands were listed out before the central government in the all-party meeting.
The party was initially part of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) but walked out of it following an uproar at the time of District Development Council elections last year when the Bhartiya Janata Party accused it of siding with people demanding restoration of pre-August 5 status. Earlier, there were indications that Gandhi may have a sitting with the PAGD leaders Tuesday evening but overnight it changed as Rahul flew home Tuesday afternoon.
Congress, which has been caught on a rough footing in Jammu and Kashmir is trying to find a middle path to woo both who are for and against the restoration of pre-August 5 status.