Two days before the visit of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Jammu and Kashmir, state chief minister Omar Abdullah said his party National Conference didn’t think beyond the UPA while considering a poll alliance at the national level.
“We have nothing to do with the Third Front. The NC is a committed constituent of the UPA and that is the way we see our future,” Omar told reporters on the first day of the opening of civil secretariat in Jammu, which becomes the state’s capital in winters.
The NC is a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance and has been in power in the State for the last five years in alliance with the Congress.
The talks of formation of a ‘Third Front’ have gained momentum after 14 regional parties convened in New Delhi on October 30 against “communalism”.
The NC had earlier been part of the BJP-led NDA.
Of late, its relations with the Congress have come under strain over various issues and that might affect the prospect of retaining this alliance for the next year’s assembly elections.
The Congress, which hopes it will win a majority of seats, has kept its option open and might well pair up with the PDP.
Asked if he was hopeful of returning to power, Omar said, “Nobody fights elections to lose them. We will fight to win it, but it is up to the people how they structure the next assembly.
“There is a fine line between being hopeful and arrogance. One can’t take anything for granted. The worst thing is to take voters for granted,” he said.
Northern Ireland model for J&K
He clarified that he had not privileged one solution over another when he told London based newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ that Northern Ireland peace process and devolution of powers on the pattern of Scotland can provide inspiration for a solution to Kashmir issue.
“As CM it would be an act of gross impropriety if I pitch one solution against the other,” Omar said.
“As a leader of the NC my party has a roadmap duly stamped by the assembly, but PDP, BJP and Congress also have suggested proposal to resolve the issue. When dialogue starts we must take into them for consideration and work out road map.”
He said not much should be read into his talk on Northern Ireland or Palestine models.
“I am talking of a process, not solution,” he said.
In the interview to the British daily, Omar had said he believed the Northern Ireland and Scotland models could inspire a future settlement in Kashmir as “sovereignty is not threatened but you recognise the nationalist sentiment that exists and you evolve that”.
Accession is final
The CM said the state was an integral part of India and he had never questioned the state’s accession with the country.
“The way J&K acceded to India might be different from other states but that doesn’t mean I have questioned the accession.”
Omar had last month said though J&K had acceded to India, it never merged with the Indian Union the way other states have.
Border cease-fire violations
Omar said after recent flag meeting between BSF and Pakistan ranger he doesn’t think cease-fire violations of such intensity along the international border will recur.
“Cease-fire is holding for now. Our efforts now should focus on asking Pakistan to honour it and engage in a dialogue,” he said.
India and Pakistan last month engaged in the fiercest exchange of firing along the International Border since the truce agreement was signed in 2003.
Omar said it would be an exaggeration to say there is a ‘Modi wave’ but it would be wrong to deny his influence on the battle for next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
“Modi effect is visible on BJP cadres, but it may not percolate down to the average voter. If that happens, we will have to see,” he said.