Srinagar: National Conference vice-president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is facing heat within his party National Conference (NC) and other political parties for his climbdown from Article 370 restoration stand.
Omar Abdullah recently wrote in a national daily, saying that he will not contest elections for being a Chief Minister of a Union Territory, advocating statehood back as a point to move forward. He came under a barrage of criticism from JK Congress, PDP, social activists etc. for diluting the stand on Article 370.
Omar Abdullah blamed some journalists and activists for giving a spin on his words and said that his party has already taken the fight for the restoration of Article 370, to the Supreme Court. He said that he or his party has not diluted their stand on the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
PDP, as a party, has made it clear that their fight is for the restoration of Article 370, and not for statehood. Iltija Mufti, daughter of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, in a veiled attack on Omar Abdullah and NC, said that a political decision can reverse the changes made by Central government on 5August last year and not by any judicial intervention. She said in a recent interview that she has no trust in courts and was looking forward to a united struggle for reversing the “onslaught on the dignity and identity of Kashmiris”.
PDP has been very vocal for a united stand for the fight for restoration of special status and has said that statehood is a promise done by the Union Home Minister on the floor of the House.
After their release, Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah have maintained a low profile for several months and avoided making any political statements about the future of Kashmir. The first fall-out of Omar Abdullah’s article in a national daily has been the resignation of former minister and chief spokesman Aga Ruhullah from spokesmanship of the party. Omar Abdullah has reacted to his resignation, saying that instead of resigning, he should have talked to him and expressed his disagreement to his views.
Insiders within the NC said that there is lot of anger against Omar Abdullah for his recent article, though he has clarified that he has not diluted the stand of his party on the restoration of Article 370. Reports said that if Omar Abdullah continues with his “soft-pedaling” with New Delhi, more leaders may resign. The National Conference has more than 16 leaders and dozens of party activists still under detention, forcing the grand old party of Kashmir to move court for their release.
Akbar Lone, sitting MP from Baramulla, said restoring statehood won’t do “us any favour as Jammu and Kashmir deserves to be a state.” “We deserve statehood, our state was turned into a Union Territory on 5 August and that was quite unacceptable to all of us.”
Insiders said that both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were in touch with the top BJP leadership and they have agreed to move forward if statehood was restored and the new domicile law was rolled back. Omar Abdullah has tried to play down his “cozying up” with the BJP and said that it was illogical to demand restoration of Article 370, from the same BJP government which has snatched it. On Friday last, there was a surprise meeting between former Chief Minister and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sources close to Azad said that PM Modi has assured him that political prisoners would be released, communication and development would be accelerated and statehood would be given back soon.
Amid such reports and speculation, BJP general secretary for J&K Ashok Kaul said that statehood would be restored only “after gun culture, militancy and killing of innocent people stop in Kashmir”. Recently, the BJP office of Jammu disturbed sweets and celebrated after Omar Abdullah’s article was published in a national daily. BJP said that it is clear that the National Conference has accepted the abrogation of Article 370, and complete integration with India.