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Congress will emerge as the single largest party in J-K: Ghulam Ahmad Mir

Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir asserted that the Congress wants all mainstream parties in the state to thrive and will not play any role in breaking other political parties.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2018 09:01 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Congress,Jammu and Kashmir,Ghulam Ahmad Mir
Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the Congress will emerge as the single largest party in Jammu & Kashmir.(HT File Photo)

In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the Congress will emerge as the single largest party in Jammu & Kashmir and that Article 370 is the strongest bridge between J&K and the rest of the country. He asserted that the Congress wants all mainstream parties in the state to thrive and will not play any role in breaking other political parties, especially regional parties, by poaching their leaders. Mir alleged that J-K governor Satya Pal was biased towards the BJP. He said he was confident that the party will reverse its losses in the coming elections. Here is an excerpt:

Will the Congress enter into a pre-poll alliance with any regional party in J&K?

Our national leaders are already in the process of forming an alliance with regional and national secular parties. We had appealed to a few parties, some of them are on board, while some are indirectly in touch with us. If the assembly elections in J&K take place with the Lok Sabha polls our leaders will discuss the issue and then take a call regarding the alliance. As it will be a national alliance, the decision will be taken by the leaders in Delhi. We will, of course, pitch in our thoughts.

Has the Congress started any preparations for the assembly polls?

We are prepared for the elections. When all other parties decided to back out from the polls, it was the Congress that contested in the urban local body and panchayat polls. The results were encouraging too. We are confident that our party will perform well in all three regions of the state.

Will the election results from MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh influence the polls in J&K?

Congress’s performance in the three states will have a positive effect on the political scenario in Jammu & Kashmir. People have closely followed the policy decisions of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the last four and half years. J&K has became a victim of their harmful policies. The people are looking forward to a Congress government under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

Congress had been wiped out from the Jammu heartland. What is your strategy to regain foothold?

We lost some 20 to 22 seats in Udhampur, Jammu and Kathua during the last assembly elections. We lost because of anti-incumbency and because our party leaders in the cabinet could not rise up to the public’s expectation. Also, at that time, an ‘air’ was created around Modi and the BJP, which influenced the voters. The ground situation today is different than it was in 2014.

What is the Congress’s stand on autonomy and Article 370?

Article 370 is the strongest bridge between J&K and the rest of the country. Our party was instrumental in introducing the Article and we will continue to defend it. The Congress has never tried to tinker with Article 370 and will not allow anybody to do so either.

Dr Farooq Abdullah recently said he will get a majority and have an autonomy resolution passed within a month of the elections. Will the Congress support the resolution?

Dr Farooq said ‘if his party will get majority’. It is up to the people whether he gets a majority or not. We will discuss the issue if the National Conference gets a majority.

People’s Conferencechairperson Sajjad Lone has blamed the Congress for breaching Article 370 from time to time in the past six decades?

Sajjad Lone’s father, the late Abdul Gani Lone, was a senior Congress leader. Lone must be talking about the breaches made during the time his father was at a senior position in the party. After his father left our party, there have been no breeches in the Article. If some laws have been added or amended, it was only done on the demand of the J&K assembly.

Many former legislators have resigned from their parties and joined other political parties. Why is nobody joining Congress? Is this an indication that the Congress is not strong?

We do not want to encourage poaching or encourage parties to breakup especially, regional parties. We want all parties to survive in the state. There are dozens of people from different walks of life who want to join Congress. We are not in favour of taking turncoats into our party.

What will be the poll plank of the Congress for the elections?

Our poll planks for the elections will be development, employment and to bring back peace, which was derailed after the BJP took rein. Congress has brought peace to Punjab, Mizoram and Assam through dialogue and will adopt same strategy in Jammu. The problem cannot be solved through guns.

Do you think alliance of the PDP and BJP was a bad deal or a political idea?

It is the poor policies of the BJP that have caused the situation to escalate to this level. Even the Peoples Democratic Party had to face a backlash because of the BJP’s policies.They too regret the alliance.

Does the Congress favour elections after the parliamentary polls?

We want early polls for J&K. If J&K governor Satya Pal Malik can hold urban local body and panchayat polls, why can’t assembly elections be held at the earliest? The governor’s rule is a temporary arrangement and cannot be a substitute for a full-fledged government formed by representatives chosen by the people of the state.

Since you said the Congress will emerge as the largest party. Who is likely to be CM ?

Our leaders will contest the elections together. The chief minister (CM) candidate will be decided by the party.

Do you think Governor Satya Pal Malik favours the BJP?

The decisions taken by the governor have clearly demonstrated his bent of mind. He is somehow being guided and directed by the BJP.

Is the BJP a threat for the Congress in J&K?

The BJP’s downfall has begun. The people of the state have understood the BJP’s divisive politics and will not give the party another chance. The results of the 2014 assembly elections will not be repeated.

First Published: Dec 31, 2018 08:27 IST