Majid Kapra

People's Conference to go whole hog at Assembly polls

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Will field candidates in all 87 seats: Lone

                                         Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Dec 21:  Ruling out any pre-poll alliance with any national or regional party ahead of upcoming Assembly elections, Peoples Conference chairman, Sajad Gani Lone Friday said his party will contest on all 87 seats of J&K Assembly on its own.

"There will be no pre-poll alliance with any party – neither a regional party nor a national party," Lone told reporters here.

The People's Conference will field candidates on all the Assembly seats across the three regions of the state, said Lone, whose party won the mayoral polls in the recently concluded elections for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

"We will fight on all 87 seats. Just wait for the coming time, many people will join us – whether those who are new to politics or those who have experience … Whether it is Pir Panjal or Jammu, Chenab, south Kashmir, central Kashmir or north Kashmir or Ladakh, our candidates will be on all 87 seats,” he said.

Lone was speaking to reporters at a press conference after former PDP MLA from Zadibal constituency Abid Ansari joined the People's Conference.

Abid's nephew and influential Shia leader Imran Ansari has already joined Lone's party earlier.

Asked about his tweet on the civilian killings in Pulwama district in which he said anti-militancy operations by government forces should be called off if there was "even a remote chance of civilians getting killed", Lone reiterated the demand, saying such questions need to be asked.

"Forget politics, they (civilians) are amongst us. Whenever there is an operation by security forces, they should look at the cost and benefits. What I said was straight from the heart that if you have to kill seven civilians for killing three militants, then you have to ask questions," he said.

Seven civilians died in the district Saturday after government forces opened fire on a crowd near the site of an encounter where three militants and an army-man were killed.

"A 14-year-old kid -- who is a minor and he does not know what he is holding in his hand -- if you know he is there (trapped), then call off the operation. What is the urgency to do it that time only? Our stand is clear on that," Lone said.

On NC vice-president Omar Abdullah's recent tweet calling for holding polls in the state on time, he said the National Conference has no right to give a time-frame for the polls as the party had boycotted the local bodies' elections earlier.

"We say let the polls be conducted in February. We have a right to demand so. He (Omar) does not have any right to demand a time-frame because his party did not contest the local bodies' polls saying they will not participate in polls till there is decision on the legal challenge to Article 35-A.

"Now, there are two things – either Omar lied then or he is lying now. He has to decide whether he lied then when he linked elections with Article 35-A or he is lying now,” Lone said.

He said People's Conference's stand is the Election Commission should conduct polls in the state in February and not wait till the Lok Sabha elections are over.

"The sooner a peoples' government comes, the better it is --but with a caveat, because we participated in the polls. They (NC) boycotted on the moral ground of (legal challenge to) Article 35-A. Where has that gone? There has been no hearing yet (in the Supreme Court). Let him (Omar) decide when he was lying, so that at least people know what their stand is on such issues,” Lone said.

On NC president Farooq Abdullah's statement on granting autonomy to all regions within 30 days if the party comes to power, he said the Peoples Conference will support the move but only if there is a white paper first on who eroded the state's special status.

Asserting that the “people are again being betrayed in the name of internal autonomy”, Lone said, "I honestly think that at this age, (Farooq) Abdullah should start speaking the truth. Before this, when he had 62 MLAs in the 1996 elections, which was a selection and not an election, they passed a resolution (in Assembly) but there was no response (from the Centre). Neither did he quit then nor did Omar resign as a Minister of State in the Centre.”

The NC should say the truth that they broke away from the BJP “not because the resolution on internal autonomy was not accepted, but because (Farooq) Abdullah - according to Omar's then statement – was not made the vice-president of the country which he was promised," he said.

“What happened to that (autonomy) resolution? We will support any resolution but there is a condition that there should be a white paper on three things. One, on which party had a role in erosions (to autonomy). Second, which party played what role in 1987, 1996 and 2002 elections. Three, who is responsible for the eruption of militancy here after 1987 elections.

"If (expelled Congress leader) Sajjan Kumar, who led a mob in the 1984 (anti-Sikh) riots, was sentenced to life recently, why no one has been sentenced here? Around one lakh died here, is no one responsible? Would there never be a closure of 1987?” he said.

He also demanded a white paper on corruption. “The means of income of every politician for the last 30-40 years should be checked and then matched with their assets today,” Lone demanded.

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