Senior Congress leader and leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday came down heavily on political parties for raising the issue of Hindu or Muslim chief minister for Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the public rallies in Banihal, Bhattan, Reasi and Maan Talai areas in favour of the Congress candidates, Vikar Rasool, Ashok Dogra, Jugal Kishore Sharma and Krishan Chander Bhagat, respectively, Azad said, "Some political parties are propagating that the chief minister should be a Hindu and some Valley-based political parties are trying to woo the people, saying that the chief minister should be from the Kashmir. But, I, as an Indian, am not bothered about any Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian becoming a chief minister. We are not bothered about the religious identity of a chief minister. What state needs is a secular leader whose heart beats for the poor and downtrodden irrespective of their castes and religions."
While appealing the people to vote in favour of the Congress candidates, Azad further said, "We need a chief minister with developmental orientation, eager to build roads, schools, hospitals, colleges, universities, government buildings, new avenues of employment for educated unemployed youth of J&K. And above all, he or she should have the capacity and capability to deal with post-flood situation, which had caused devastation and destroyed lakhs of houses and agriculture land, besides damaging schools, hospital buildings, bridges and roads across the state".
Azad said, "Mere religious sentiments and polarisation of votes in the name of religion is not going to help the state to stage a comeback on the path of development and prosperity."
He further said the Congress is contesting assembly elections with a vision and specific agenda to serve the people of all the three regions of the state.
"I am aware of the problems being faced by the inhabitants of this region, so I have prepared a blue-print for the growth and betterment of the state," stated Azad and reminded the gathering, saying, "As chief minister of state, I had formulated a comprehensive plan to create infrastructure in this mountainous region and in a short span of just two-and-half-year, I had proved how to develop this region."
Seeking mandate of people to accelerate developmental activities in remote and far-flung areas, Azad said that the Congress was committed to counter and defeat divisive forces and would always work for the development of the country and countrymen irrespective of any caste, colour or religion.