Recalling the contribution of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in realising the dream of the Jammu-Srinagar rail link, chief minister Omar Abdullah has said the “people of the state now look up you (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) for its further expansion”.
“Many people had played politics over it (the rail link) and sold this dream. But it was Vajpayee who added colour to it by declaring it a national project. The former PM Manmohan Singh also carried it forward. Now, for its further expansion in the state people look up to you,” Omar said in his address after the Katra-Udhampur train was flagged off by Modi on Friday.
The foundation stone of the Jammu-Udhampur rail line was laid in 1983 by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. In July 2002, AB Vajpayee had declared the Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway link a national project. The Jammu-Udhampur rail link was inaugurated in 2005 by former PM Manmohan Singh.
Omar who had exchanged barbs with Modi during the Lok Sabha elections, was apparently a bit uneasy in sharing dias with him. Wearing a black Pathan suit and grey jacket, he was in a sombre and reflective mood in the entire function. Sitting next to each other, it was Modi who broke the ice and did some light talking. At the conclusion of the function, when the Prime Minister was about to leave and started waiving, Omar move back a bit allowing Modi to leave first.
The CM in a cautious change of track said it’s not the occasion to talk about the problems of the state and will do so when the time and occasion comes again. Omar in the past sharing dias with the former prime minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had said those demanding abrogation of Article 370 — a key political agenda of BJP — would be able to do so on their bodies.
The chief minister also underscored the need for linking Poonch-Rajouri and Doda-Kishtwar in the Jammu division with the railways and extension of railway tracks in Kashmir Valley to various places, particularly Tangmarg, Pahalgam and other tourist resorts.
Showing concern over apprehensions in Jammu city over loss of business with the train going to Katra, Omar asked the PM for upgradation of Jammu railway station and said government has many plans to develop this city so that pilgrims coming to Vaishno Devi also visit the Jammu city.