Baramulla Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday announced that he will announce a new party in ten days.
“We will announce a new party in ten days. I’ve not decided upon a name for my party yet. The people of J-K will decide the name and the flag for the party. I’ll give a Hindustani name to my party that everyone can understand,” Azad said while addressing a rally in Baramulla. Azad, who resigned from Congress party ending a five-decade-long association, said that the first unit of his political outfit would be formed in Jammu and Kashmir in view of impending assembly polls. He lashed out at Congress and said that people are trying to defame us (me and my supporters who left the party) but their reach is limited to computer tweets.
Azad also pitched for statehood, job security and land rights for the people of the UT in his first rally in Kashmir Valley after resigning from Congress on Sunday.
Flanked by half a dozen former Congress legislators and former ministers who have now joined him, Azad addressed a rally of party workers at the high-security area at Dak Bangalow in Baramulla, adjacent to the police lines. The veteran leader said that he won’t mislead the people of the state by saying that he will restore Article 370 which was revoked by the Indian Parliament on August 5, 2019.
“Today some leaders are saying why don’t I speak on Article 370. I will never mislead people for the sake of votes. We have already lost one lakh people and have fifty thousand widows and four to five lakh orphans here. Thousands have lost their homes,” he said.
Azad said for the restoration of Article 370 there should be two-thirds of the majority in the parliament. “It means the party must have more than 350 Lok Sabha seats. For the last 10 years, the tally of Congress hasn’t crossed 50. In my life, Congress never won 360 or 370 seats in Lok Sabha. So how can I mislead people that I will restore Article 370? From where will get the MP’s,” Azad said.
Instead, the veteran leader said his agenda was clear and its restoration of statehood, business and land rights to the people of the state and the locals should have rights on the jobs. “Now even contractors and labourers come from outside to work in the state where will the locals go?” he said adding that there will be all-around development if he comes to power.
He said that in the Rajya Sabha when he joined the house, the Congress had 73 seats. “The party lost elections in state after state and the tally of members came down to 30 to 32 seats. Next year, the Congress’ tally will be 20. And for restoration of Article 370, I need 175 votes in Rajya Sabha. Leaders who claim about the restoration of Article 370 should ponder whether they will be able to win their seats.”
Azad said it was a ploy to mislead the people of Kashmir. “It’s a ploy to create another ground for agitation, death and destruction.”
Former J&K chief minister said that he would never allow his people to do politics on religious or divisive lines. “Whether I win or lose, my politics will be based on the truth. People have given a lot of blood. Now if people will give me support. I will give my blood to them. I’m “Azad” free and Ghulam (slave) of the prophet,” he said.
Without naming Apni Party president, Altaf Bukhari, who had blamed Azad for not speaking in favour of Article 370 in the Parliament, the former leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha said people who are unaware of the Parliament shouldn’t speak on such issues. He said that he made several attempts to visit J&K post revocation of Article 370 but wasn’t allowed. “Last, I moved to Supreme Court and only on court orders was I allowed to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu,” he said.
Azad told the rally about the developmental projects which he finished during his tenure as J&K chief minister from 2005 to 2008 when Congress and the PDP were running a coalition government in the state.
Azad also said he had curbed the human rights violations during his tenure by making officers accountable.
Azad will be holding his next rally in south Kashmir’s Anantnag on Thursday and said that in the coming days, he will announce the name of his new political party.
With today’s rally, Azad also started his campaign in Kashmir, and several lower-rung political workers who had come from different parts of north Kashmir announced their support for Azad.
“For us, it was a successful rally. Despite the rain, people in large numbers came to listen to Azad. It’s a good beginning for Azad in north Kashmir, and the momentum will go further up once more rallies are held in different parts of the valley,” said former legislator Shoiab Lone, who was part of Azad’s first rally.