June 2001 News

Centre funding National Conference rivals to break party, says Omar

25 June 2001
The Indian Express
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: In a significant development, Omar Abdullah, son of J-K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Union minister of state for commerce, has accused the Centre of trying to break his party, the National Conference, by propping up elements inimical to it. In an interview with The Indian Express today, Omar said he won’t care if he was thrown out of the NDA and would be ‘‘quite happy’’ and ‘‘continue as an MP’’. Omar alleged that the Centre was funding the People’s Democratic Party of former Union home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the Democratic Freedom Party of separatist leader Shabir Shah. ‘‘How else do you think Mufti and Shabir Shah fund their programmes?’’ he asked. Omar added that this was nothing new. ‘‘Ever since Independence, the Centre has been pursuing a programme of propping up elements against the National Conference. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was thrust upon the state as prime minister after my grandfather and then prime minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was arrested in 1953. My uncle, G M Shah, was propped up to topple my father’s government in 1984. Such conspiracies have been going on for years.’’ Asked how he could make such a statement when he was part of the NDA, Omar said: ‘‘If they want to throw us out, I will be quite happy. I will continue as MP’’. He, however, denied that he would contest the assembly elections. ‘‘I will not be contesting for the assembly. I will not be the NC’s chief ministerial candidate. My father will contest the elections,’’ he asserted. He denied that he was sulking since he had very little to do in his ministry and that one of his foreign trips had been axed by his senior, Murasoli Maran. Omar has been camping in the Valley for the past couple of months and has addressed a number of public meetings, particularly in far-flung areas. All this had given credence to rumours that he was being projected as NC’s chief ministerial candidate. On one of his rounds on Sunday, he survived a bid on his life; militants had fired rockets and rifle grenades towards his chopper when it was about to land at Sogam in the frontier district of Kupwara. His chopper couldn’t land and he had to leave without addressing the 6000-strong crowd that was waiting for him. ‘‘It was the second attack on me. They (militants) want to harm me since they feel threatened by me,’’ said Omar. Admitting that the anti-incumbency factor was weakening NC, particularly in south Kashmir, he observed: ‘‘In Anantnag we are facing problems. We have to look into the sense of alienation amongst the people.’’ He, however, added that the party was enjoying mass support in the rest of state. ‘‘This is the reason why the militants feel threatened by us and target our cadre. If you think we do not have a representative character, you should leave us alone. You are making us more representative by doing all this.’’ Omar rejected the allegation that his party was sabotaging the peace initiative. ‘‘We welcomed the cease-fire, but after two months of no tangible benefits and increase in killings, we started talking against it,’’ he said. ‘‘We also welcomed the Vajapee-Musharraf summit. The Hurriyat survives on violence; we strive for peace.’’ Hitting out at the Hurriyat, Omar said the separatist conglomerate had no representative character. ‘‘We are willing to test our representative character and contest elections in any circumstances. We have no hesitation and can dissolve the assembly for this,’’ he asserted. Pointing out that some individuals in Hurriyat were ready to contest the next elections, Omar said ‘‘they want nothing but power’’. Speaking on the issue of autonomy, that was mentioned in the manifesto of the NC for the 1996 elections, Omar expressed confidence that his party would be able to fulfill its promise of restoring autonomy before the forthcoming elections. ‘‘We came to power in 1996 on the autonomy plank. We will exhaust every possible option to restore autonomy before the coming elections. We have a two-third majority in the assembly and will take appropriate steps for its restoration,’’ he said.


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