Abdullah to continue support to NDA, conditionally
28 July 2000
The Indian Express
Shillong: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah today said National Conference will continue to support the NDA government at the Centre ''till the time it keeps the door open for discussion for autonomy'' of the state. ''I will support the Vajpayee government till the day he keeps the door open for me to discuss the autonomy issue of my state.... The day he closes the door for discussion issue, I will withdraw from the alliance,'' he told a press conference here. Peace in Jammu and Kashmir is possible only if autonomy is allowed, he said, adding two-third of the people of the state supported it and he had been demanding it since the days of the Narasimha Rao government at the Centre. He said, the state enjoyed full autonomy till 1965 by virtue of Article 92 of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution but the then Congress government at the Centre had curtailed it by imposing Article 356 and eroded the power of Article 370. ''I am pleading for restoration of J&K autonomy within the Constitution of India....J&K was not merged with India but had acceded and I want to restore our autonomy.'' He also welcomed Hizbul Mujahidden''s ceasefire offer and proposed talks with Hurriyat Conference leaders. Abdullah rued that a propaganda was on against him saying he had been demanding the right of Supreme Court, currency and election commission. Asked how autonomy would benefit the people of the state, he said ''Autonomy is for the soul of the people. Today we have to beg Delhi for everything, but after getting autonomy the people will themselves decide matters of their own development.'' The autonomy demanded for J&K is ''completely different'' from that demanded by Meghalaya and other north-eastern states, he said, adding he had been supported by political leaders from across the country like M Karunanidhi, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Prakash Singh Badal, Jyoti Basu and Prafulla Mahanta. He said, he was here to hand over a copy of the autonomy report adopted by the J&K assembly to Meghalaya Chief Minister E K Mawlong, whom he had invited for discussions at the all India political conference scheduled to be held at Srinagar in September.