SRINAGAR — Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday sought support of the people to take the Union Territory out of the shadows of “fear, unemployment and helplessness”.
Azad, who quit the Congress last month, said he will not rake up emotive issues like “freedom”, “autonomy” or “self-rule”, but will only talk about issues which can be achieved.
“I am not like those leaders that I will play with your sentiments to win elections,” he said, addressing a public meeting at Dak Bungalow in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Azad said there are two ways to become a leader — one by raking up emotive slogans and the other by talking only about those issues which are under his control.
“I will say you will get freedom. But, you will not get it. Have you got it from the last 75 years? I will say you will get autonomy (NC’s plank) or the self-rule (PDP’s plank). Many elections were fought on these slogans, you have experienced, but there have been no results. Instead, they have only added to the death count. So, why should I raise such slogans,” the veteran leader said.
Azad said if some people were promising the return of Article 370 — which was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019 — “let them”, but he will not guarantee people something over which he has no control.
“What happened to the previous promises those people made?…I can promise you development. I will ensure you have a dignified life. I promise you that no policeman or Army man will knock the doors of the houses of my Gujjar-Bakerwal or Kashmiri brothers in the dead of the night.
“I promise you that the children of poor or even rich people will not be jailed and sent to Kathua or any other jail in the country for money. I promise you that no one will disrespect our sisters and daughters,” he said.
The former J-K chief minister also promised that there will not be “fake” encounters.
He said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has promised on the floor of Parliament that Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood will be restored.
“Once the statehood is restored, I can also guarantee land and job rights in J-K will be given only to the people of J-K,” Azad said, adding “I cannot give you those guarantees which are not in my hand”.
Pointing to J-K’s tourism potential and the employment the sector can generate, he said he has “experience and many schemes in mind” which can bring two crore tourists to the UT every year.
“These things can be done as I have done it in the past,” he added.
The former leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha said he was perhaps the only politician in the country to have gone to the people first before forming a political party.
“Ninety-nine per cent people first form a party and then go to the people. I think I am the first person in the country or even the world, who is forming a party after meeting public delegations.
“My experience taught me that I should go to the people first, ask them if they will support me or not and then form a party. When the people support me, then everyone of them will be Ghulam Nabi Azad because they will be a part of the decisions of that party,” Azad said.
Addressing his supporters, he asked them if they permit him to form a new political party, to which they replied in affirmative.
“Will you run the new party? Will you help in ascending it to power? Will you support my agenda of making a Khushaal Kashmir?,” Azad asked. The people responded “Zaroor” (surely).
“I could have gotten lost in the politics at the national level, reached the zenith. But, I thought, my home, J-K, is burning. It is living under the shadow of unemployment, fear and helplessness, and I have to help it,” he said, appealing people to support him.
The public meeting at Anantnag was the last scheduled part of Azad’s programme in J-K after he quit the Congress party on August 26. He held a public rally in Jammu on September 4. In Kashmir, he addressed his first public meeting in Baramulla on September 11 and also met various delegations which called on him during his stay in the Valley. — (PTI)