‘Elections Soul Of Freedom’, says G.M.Shah

16 March 2008

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference president and former chief minister, Ghulam Muhammad Shah, today announced his return into the state politics after more than 15 years, terming elections as “soul of an independent nation.” He said the state had “witnessed fair elections only once till date.” “Elections are the soul of freedom and I am not against contesting. But they should be free, then only can the exercise pay dividends,” Shah said while addressing a big rally of his supporters at the press colony here on his arrival from Jammu. Accompanied by his wife, Begum Khalida Shah, Shah claimed that from 1947 till date the free elections were held only once in Jammu and Kashmir when late Morarji Desai was the prime minister of India from 1977 to 1979. “It was the time when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah steered the National Conference to a landslide win at the elections although the then deputy prime minister, Ch Charan Singh, had tried to rig these,” Shah said. Asking New Delhi to create an atmosphere for free elections in the state, Shah urged the prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to assure the people of free elections and see what they wanted. “I don’t claim that my party will win, it can be Peoples Democratic Party, Hurriyat Conference, National Conference or any other party but we want real elections,” Shah said. Responding to queries from media persons about the possibility of his joining the upcoming third front, Shah said, “Let it come to the fore. We will see who are the people in the front and the ANC will take the decision accordingly.” He said the ANC was trying to garner support aiming at a two-third majority in the next house. “Many young people including my son have played an important role in strengthening the party during the past few months. Now, we are in the field, I am hopeful to leave a mark and emerge as a winner,” Shah said. Talking to Greater Kashmir later, a party spokesman said it would strive at the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute “in the House (legislative assembly) and that the resolution would be through tripartite talks. He said the party would not allow anyone to trample the blood of martyrs. “Should the party win two-third majority in the ensuing elections, it will charge all the laws that call for change,” the spokesman said, adding an effort would be made to provide good governance to the people without any blood-letting.