Exhorting the people to demolish the wall of hatred raised between them by vested interests, Ghulam Nabi Azad, while addressing an impressive rally in Jammu on Sunday after quitting the Congress, said that he intends to build his new party on the lines of Ganga-Jamuni tradition as was envisioned for independent India by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Azad said: “I have not yet decided upon a name for the new party. The people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide the name and the flag for the party. I would like to give the party a Hindustani name that Hindus, Muslims and people of other regions easily understand.”
In his nearly hour-long speech, he slammed the Congress leadership but did not utter even a word about the Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He accused the Congress of having lost its rapport with the people at the ground level. Those in the Congress trying to defame me are habitual of spreading fake news through twitter and social media, he said.
However, I am not afraid of such mechanization as I have not snapped my contact with the people on the ground, said Azad who was given a rousing reception from the airport to the venue of his rally after his arrival from Delhi.
Outlining the blueprint of his new party, Azad said: It will be focused on three issues – Restoration of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir; Right to land and Employment to domiciles of J&K. Statehood should also include the replacement of Lieutenant Governor with that of earlier practice of appointing a Governor in J&K.
He appreciated the then Dogra ruler Hari Singh for introducing the State Subject law in 1925 that reserved land and jobs for residents of J & K. These provisions were thereafter guaranteed in the Constitution and successive government’s honored these until Article 370 was abrogated, he said.
Azad said that he always stood with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh whether he was a minister at the centre or chief minister of the erstwhile state. The honorable return of migrant Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the valley was also on top of his agenda and he sought to end the cycle of killing of innocent people in Kashmir.
The PM’s employment package for Kashmiri Pandits was introduced on ‘my’ insistence during the UPA regime by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Azad said.
Slamming political parties that were accusing him of having helped the NDA government in abrogating Article 370 that provided a special status to J&K, Azad said that he forcefully resisted scrapping of the Constitutional provision.
Narrating the sequence of the efforts made by him for the restoration of Article 370, Azad said that he invited leaders of opposition parties to visit Kashmir to witness the post-abrogation ground situation.
I also requested Rahul Gandhi to accompany the delegation. However, the delegation of opposition parties was stopped at Srinagar airport and not allowed to proceed to the city. Thereafter, I came to Jammu to meet the people but was stopped at the airport and sent back to Delhi after four hours, he said.
Azad said that respite came when he approached the Supreme Court that not only asked the authorities to allow me to visit Kashmir but also ordered me to submit a complete report of the situation to the court after returning from the valley.
“After returning from the valley, I submitted a detailed report to the apex court on the pathetic condition of small traders and those connected with tourism and handicrafts because of the curfew-like situation in the valley, ” he said.
Azad thanked National Conference leader and MP Dr Farooq Abdullah for exhibiting ‘statesmanship’ and appreciating his efforts towards preventing the abrogation of Article 370.
Azad expressed concern over the sand and liquor mafias from other states grabbing activity in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of which the price of sand and building material has shot up.