Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Wednesday urged the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir not to make Article 370 an election plank saying that there was no need for them to hide behind it for venturing into forthcoming legislative assembly polls.
In an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir, Azad, who also served as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha between 2014 to 2021 and as a union minister for Health and Family Welfare, and Parliamentary Affairs, raised pertinent questions on the emotional exploitation of the people of J&K by various political parties promising to restore Article 370 within a year or so of them coming to power.
“I’m not going to make Article 370 an election issue and I also request other political parties too not to make it an issue,” he said.
The recipient of Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, Azad said that this was yet another way of exploiting the sentiments that had already been tried several times in the last 75 years.
“I got the Parliament record. In Lok Sabha, 378 votes were in favour of the abrogation of Article 370 and only 77 were against its abrogation. So there is a difference of 301 votes, 301 MPs. Where are we going to bring these 301 MPs from? They are not bananas or oranges you buy. They are elected representatives,” he said.
Azad, who resigned from the Indian National Congress on August 26, 2022, asked if anybody could guarantee him how more than 300 leaders could be wooed to vote against the abrogation of Article 370.
“I have 40 years of experience in the Parliament. Will two years down the line we get 300 more MPs? No, it is not practical. So this time and in the next Parliament, it isn’t possible. That means, as of now, we can’t make it an agenda. As and when we have a two-thirds majority, yes, I will be the first person to vote. But having known that even after three years we are not going to have 300, then why should we fool the people? Is it not knowingly fooling yourself and the people,” he said.
About the possibility of the Supreme Court striking down the abrogation of Article 370, Azad said, “Three years and a month have passed since Article 370 was abrogated. The apex court hasn’t yet given the first hearing. Kapil Sibal who has been approached by all the political parties, being the tallest lawyer, said there is nothing yet. When the Supreme Court is yet to go for the first hearing, how many hearings and years will it take to decide? Can any political party guarantee here that they will convince the Supreme Court to start hearing from tomorrow and convince them to finish it inside a year and also convince it to give a decision in our favour. You say and give a guarantee and I will quit politics. Or they should quit.”(GK)