Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday dodged all questions about withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as well as prospects of his party’s pre-poll alliance with the incumbent coalition partner National Conference in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
“This is a discussion between the Chief Minister and our Prime Minister. It’s not appropriate for me to make statements on this,” Mr. Gandhi said when a journalist wanted to know why the Centre was not listening to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s demand of revoking the AFSPA from the State.
He was addressing an impromptu news conference after launching the Union Rural Development Ministry-funded Umeed programme for the entire State at this central Kashmir district headquarters.
On alliance with the NC, he said: “These are matters are not for me to delve into and discuss. These are matters are decided within their party, within our party. We have a healthy constructive relationship and we are working together. I have got a view and I’ll express that view to my leadership.”
“What’s that view? Should the Congress, National Conference coalition continue?” he was asked.
Mr. Gandhi laughed and retorted: “There are certain things that are internal to an organisation and I certainly have a view on all of these matters. I’ll place my views in front of my senior leadership in the Congress, and these matters, unfortunately or fortunately, are not to be decided in front of the Press cameras.”
Stress on development
He evinced more interest in his party’s contribution to the State’s development and progress, besides the employment and empowerment of the youth and the women, rather than politics and the political partnership.
Even when a journalist wanted to know whether or not the separatist Hurriyat Conference was being roped in for a dialogue process for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Mr. Gandhi put the ball in Mr. Abdullah’s court. “That’s for the Chief Minister to see,” he said.
“We’ve done the best”
Asked why the UPA-II had done “nothing” to restore peace and confidence with the involvement of the separatist leadership in Kashmir, he claimed that it had done the “best” to empower people at the grass roots. He referred to the extensive surface connectivity.
The UPA-II had brought about a “massive change” and “transformation of mood” in the Valley, he said adding “I’m quite proud of the work we are doing in J&K. We are working together, the Centre and the State government. Of Course, every now and then there are issues that can come up but we resolve them all.”