New Delhi, 17 April 1999: (KT)The National Conference (NC) MP Prof. Saifuddin Soz proved a trump card for the Opposition to upset the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)ís apple cart during the voting on the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha here Saturday. In another significant development, with far reaching consequences, Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah this morning met Congress president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. He refused to divulge details of his 30-minute discussions with Mrs. Gandhi at her residence, saying, "it was only a courtesy call."
While analysing the voting pattern in the Lok Sabha today, Union Home Minister L. K. Advani said that Farooq had asked him in the early morning not to count his one MP that is Soz in his basket. To neutralise the NC MP, the BJP worked overnight and managed to keep away the CPI MP from Manipur Ms. Gangte Km. Kim from the House. The bravado displayed by Prof. Soz, perhaps first in the history of National Conference (NC) has pleased the Muslim community here. The Kerala unit of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has offered Soz to contest next poll from its strong hold in Malabar region of Kerala. Almost all the Muslim organisations, Jammat-e-Islami, Hind, Milli Council, All India Muslim Majlis Mashawarat, Muslim Personal Law Board, Majlis Itihadul Muslimeen of Hayderabad have thanked the NC leader for his crucial role in ousting the BJP from power.
Talking to KTNS, the dissident NC MP, Prof. Saifuddin Soz said that he acted according to his conscience. "How can I support the government, when the people of Jammu and Kashmir are against it," he said. While describing Farooq his leader, he said that Chief Minister was extremely vulnerable and is surrounded by sycophants, self-seekers and careerists. "The party has little time to discuss crucial issues, fraught with serious consequences."
Declaring that his concern for the party is second to none, Soz said that he wanted to re-illuminate the flame of secularism and tread the party laid by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Soz said that he had pleaded with Farooq to allow his party MPs to abstain from the voting that would have salvaged his position and the party. But, the Chief Minister was adamant to vote for the BJP. "This was against my principles and ideology to support a party backed by rabid communalist organisation like RSS. We had no mandate to work in tandem with the BJP. He reminded how the BJP government in UP ordered school children to sing Vande-Mataram and Saraswati Vandana every morning and the way minorities especially Christians were treated during last 13-months. Rejecting that there was any moral ground to bail out the BJP, he said that the hopes which Farooq had attached with the BJP at the time of lending his support 13-months ago were also dashed. They did not leave any mark of their governance in Jammu and Kashmir. Right from railway to Dal project, every thing is in limbo. While as consolidated funds of Government of India were not personal property of the BJP led government and had no link with supporting it, the Vajpayee government even did not consider financial assistance for the state.
Soz claimed that his step has created a sense of relief amongst secularists and particularly Indian Muslim community. "My voters, Kashmiri Muslims, can hold their heads high now that they have shown the way and participated in throwing out communalists from power." He elaborated that basically three things were in his mind when he decided to defy his party leaderís dictate. 1. The people of Kashmir had not voted the NC to back a communal party. 2 Indian Muslim community should feel comfortable and thus participate in selecting and electing the government at the Centre. 3. Jammu and Kashmir joined India for secularism and the party representing the state can not compromise its basic ideals built on the edifice of secularism. About the consequences of his decision, Prof. Soz said that he was prepared to face any situation. "I will continue to respect Dr. Abdullah and I feel my act has revived the party in the state. I have not gone against the party interest. This party has inherited tradition of fighting communal and divisive forces from Sheikh Abdullah." He revealed that former prime minister V. P. Singh had also called him during last night and pleaded him to salvage NCís secular credentials.
Lok Sabha member and senior National Conference (NC) leader Saifuddin Soz was on Monday expelled from the party for life for defying the party decision of supporting the Vajpayee government in the trust vote. The decision was unanimously taken by the NC working committee which met in Jammu under the chairmanship of party president Farooq Abdullah, party general secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmed said.
However, Soz defended his action saying that he had voted against the Vajpayee government according to the legacy left behind by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to strengthen secular and democratic forces. Soz said in New Delhi that he voted according to his conscience and keeping in view the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, but ?this hardly mattered to my party? To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the party?s decision to expel me from the National Conference is based on this theory, he said.
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