At his first rally in Baramulla after his exit from the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad was candid saying Article 370 is done and dusted and it was almost impossible for any political party to bring it back.
“I will not mislead anyone. Neither for votes, nor for politics will I exploit you. Please don’t rake up issues which can’t be achieved. Article 370 can’t be restored. It needs majority in parliament,” Azad told the gathering, clearly hitting out at Kashmir-based mainstream parties.
Parties such as the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party have come together to form the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration to fight for restoration of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, stripped in 2019.
The former J&K chief minister said the Congress was going down with every election and there is no party in India which can get majority in parliament and restore article 370. “Neither the Congress nor any other regional party or leaders … Mamata, DMK, Sharad Pawar or anyone can get back 370," he said.
Azad added that for anyone to do so, a party has to get 350 plus seats in the Lok Sabha and also two-thirds majority in Rajya Sabha. He said in the last election, the Congress won 50-odd seats and that might further come down to 25, but “I pray the Congress does well”.
The former chief minister targeted regional party leaders, saying they should not lie to people to exploit their sentiments.
“J&K has been going through a difficult phase since 1947 and more than one lakh people have lost lives and leaders have banked on falsehoods to deceive the masses. The politics of exploitation has led to the killing of one lakh people in Kashmir. It has orphaned five lakh children and caused massive distraction” he said.
He said he has come to J&K to fight against falsehoods even if it hurts his political prospects.
The veteran leader said he was launching his party in J&K within the next 10 days to fight politics of exploitation and falsehood. He hinted that he was not using his name for the party nomenclature despite a lot of supporters suggesting so. “I am not a dictator to put my name," he said.
Azad told the gathering that he will fight for achievable things such as restoration of statehood and protection of jobs and land for the residents of J&K.
“I will not raise emotional slogans to win seats. We will have to fight for restoration of statehood. For this, there is no need for a constitutional amendment,” he said.
He clarified that once statehood is granted, the state government can make laws for protection of jobs and land for the residents of J&K and these two issues don’t need parliament approval.
The former J&K chief minister reminded the people that his record on human rights, developmental projects like roads and buildings, health sector and working discipline in government sector touched new heights when he led the erstwhile state in 2005 for 2.5 years.
He said he took strict action against police officers who indulged in killing of innocent civilians in Kashmir. He said during his tenure, he ensured all districts had a hospital. Azad said hundreds of new bridges and roads were built during his chief ministership. “There is hardly a place where my name has not been there in foundation stones…Go to even remote border areas and you will find it.”