Durability, unity keys to J-K Govt: Azad
17 October 2002
The Indian Express
New Delhi: The newly elected J-K Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has asserted he has the support of 95 per cent Independents. When Azad met Governor Girish Chandra Saxena on Wednesday, he, however, did not stake claim to form the government. In a telephonic interview with The Indian Express, Azad emphasised the need for a durable government that will last a full six years. The Congress is keen it should not rush the process and all parties and groups which garnered anti-NC mandate should come together for a stable government. Excerpts: How soon can you form a government? The electionís significance is not limited to India; it has international ramifications. So we will not take any decision in a hurry. Any arrangement should last a full six years. No one should make it a prestige issue. I met the Governor (on Wednesday). We are keen to ensure whatever agreement is reached should last six years. What transpired at your meeting with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed? Is he prepared to concede the CMís post to you? Mufti Sayeed told me the race for CM was not an issue. He said since PDP was a regional party, it will face fewer problems vis-a-vis Congress on crucial issues, and he can take a tougher stand against abrogation of Article 370 than the Congress, since as a national party it has its constraints. I said that Congressí presence in Parliament can be more useful. Being the main Opposition party, our presence at the Centre and the state can do wonders, more than a regional party. Mufti says PDP has a sizeable representation in the Valley... Only one person has raised this argument and that is Mufti Sayeed. No other person in the Valley is talking about it. Did you enter any pre-poll agreement with PDP on the chief ministership? There was no alliance. We unilaterally left seven seats for PDP in Kashmir. What transpired at your meeting with the Governor (on Wednesday)? When I met him (on Tuesday), the Governor told me October 17 was the last day to install a popular government. I met him (on Wednesday) to seek more time to have discussions before he proclaims Governorís rule. He has extended the date to October 21. What happens if Sayeed doesnít relent? As many as 95 per cent Independents are with us. But then it doesnít make for a strong government. We want to take along PDP with us. Luckily, CPM and the rest have pledged us their support. What about the common minimum programme (CMP)? Yes, there is almost a consensus on the CMP. The Congress led the Opposition against the draconian POTA. Similarly, on militants too, we have been saying there should be talks with them without any pre-condition.