Says National Conference did not give up the autonomy demand
SRINAGAR: National Conference patron and the former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, on Monday reacted strongly to senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s observations that he (Dr. Abdullah) surrendered on the autonomy demand to continue in the National Democratic Alliance government.
Dr. Abdullah told a gathering in Nawakadal area here that he read reports to this effect quoting Mr. Advani’s book My Life My Country. “[The] BJP leader is talking trash,” he said. He termed the remarks an expression of being “selfish.”
Dr. Abdullah asserted that the National Conference neither gave up the autonomy demand nor made any compromise for power or anything else. His son Omar Abdullah was a Minister in the NDA government.
“We passed the autonomy bill in the State Assembly,” he said. The then Defence Minister George Fernandes and Law Minister Ram Jethmalani agreed to raise the demand in Parliament. However, that never happened. “None of the leaders even read the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) report [passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2000],” he said.
“My mother [wife of Sheikh Abdullah] passed away during that period and when Mr. Vajpayee visited us, he promised that the discussion will continue. But nothing came up,” he saidAnother former Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, said that every demand short of independence was acceptable.
He said the BJP was not sincere on the Kashmir issue.
“Our demand for autonomy irked them. They simply wanted complete merger of Kashmir into the Indian union with no flag or Constitution of our own, which is not acceptable to our party.”
Mr. Advani has devoted many pages to Kashmir under the title “Dealing with Kashmir issue.”