NC hits out at Sayeed govt for silence on autonomy issue
6 November 2002
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: National Conference fired its first salvo against the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed-led government in Jammu and Kashmir charging them with remaining silent over the issue of granting autonomy to the state. ''The issue of autonomy does not figure anywhere in the Common Minimum Programme adopted by the coalition partners despite the fact that the previous state assembly had adopted a resolution on this,'' party president and Union Minister Omar Abdullah told PTI. Dismissing reports that the autonomy was only an election plank and that his party never pursued it seriously, Omar said his party had raised the issue during the 1996 elections and submitted a ''good and well drafted proposal'' before the state assembly which adopted a resolution to this effect. The party chief said his party was unnecessarily blamed on the issue of autonomy when the previous state government had submitted a resolution only in 2000. To a question whether he blamed the Centre for delaying action on it, Omar said ''we are not here for the blame game but defintely there was a delay on the part of the Centre.'' Omar expressed surprise that CPM, which is a partner in the ruling alliance in the state, had also chosen to remain silent on the issue of autonomy despite the fact that they had supported the resolution. About the reasons for the poll debacle of his party, the National Conference President said ''we are definitely analysing the situation but one thing is sure that we were not able to highlight the achievements of our government properly.'' He claimed that the previous state government had been able to generate 1.5 lakh jobs in the last six years but this ''fact has not reached all the ears in the state.'' To a question about the alleged atrocities committed by the Special Operations Group, Omar said ''during my election campaign, I had promised to give a new face to this anti- militancy group while PDP had been saying that they would disband it.'' ''Now whose stand stands vindicated. Afterall now Sayeed is also saying that the SOG will be given a new face and is refraining from using the word disband,'' Omar said. To a question whether corruption at high level was also a factor responsible for the defeat of his party, Omar said ''you name a state where corruption does not exist. This state is no different from others but the problem was that here the menace was exploited to the hilt. If a peon is corrupt that does not mean that Farooq Abdullah is corrupt. ''There were instances where corrupt officers were booked by the state government,'' he said. He also said that initial misuse of POTA had also proved counter- productive for the government. Asked whether aligning with the Centre had also cost the party, Omar said ''we joined the Centre for representing state''s voice in Delhi but the opposition projected it as if we were Delhi''s voice in the state.''