Press Trust of india

Retired from RS not politics, will continue my fight for J&K’s statehood: Azad

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Jammu:  Asserting that he had retired only from Rajya Sabha and not politics, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday expressed a resolve to continue his fight for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood and its residents’ special rights over jobs and land.

The former chief minister also stressed the importance of unity among the residents of the Union Territory to fight the threats from China and Pakistan and said “we need to stand with our forces against the enemies”.

Ghulam Nabi Azad retired from the Upper House on February 15.

“I have retired from Rajya Sabha but not from politics. This is not for the first time that I retired from parliament. Till my last breath, I will continue my services for the nation and will continue my fight for the rights of people,” Azad told a ‘Shanti Sammelan’ organised by the Gandhi Global family here.

He was joined by senior party leaders including Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raj Babbar and Anand Sharma.

In an apparent reference to the August 05, 2019 development when the Centre revoked J&K’s special status and split it into two Union Territories, he said, “We have lost our identity but we will not give up and continue our fight for the restoration of the statehood within and outside parliament.”

“We want representatives of the people of all the three regions of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – to form the government. Leh supported the UT status but Kargil is against it. Every party in Jammu – from BJP to RSS and National Conference to PDP and Panthers Party wants statehood back,” he said.

“It is the voice of the people and I challenge anyone to come out with a statement that they do not want the restoration of statehood to J&K,” he said.

He also said he will continue his fight for the locals’ rights over land and jobs.

“Jammu and Leh face the immediate threat if outsiders start settling in J&K and Ladakh. We are not against the people coming from outside to get jobs here, but in Jammu and Kashmir, resources are limited as we do not have any big industry here,” Azad said.

In politics, he said the fight continues to ensure that the people get their rights.

“Jammu and Kashmir shares its border with China and Pakistan and the enemy is very active unlike in any other part of the country. We had many wars in the past but the rift has not ended till date. It is our responsibility that we maintain harmony, peace, love and fight the enemy together,” he said, adding it is possible when “we are united and did not fall prey to those who are doing the politics of division”.

He said every party has a right to come to the power but doing the politics of religion is not good for the country.

“You need to take everyone along as was done by Congress in the past. The Congress could not have achieved freedom for the country had it not welcomed everyone from every region, religion and every community including educated people, farmers, traders and labourers, irrespective of their caste and creed,” he said.

He said the Congress learnt from former prime minister Indira Gandhi that border residents are brave people who fight the enemy alongside the forces and need to be given a special attention.

“We salute our forces for their bravery in the face of challenges from Pakistan and China. We support them and stand with them against the enemy,” he said.

“World leaders like US president Joe Biden makes a reference to Kashmir soon after taking over. They do not talk about any other place of the country but we have now lost our identity and have to fight for its restoration,” he said.

Sibal says Cong ‘getting weak’, but not utilising experience of Azad

Jammu:  Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal Saturday said here the party was “getting weak”, but was not utilising the vast political experience of veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who recently retired from Rajya Sabha.

Sibal was among several party leaders including Manish Tewari, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raj Babbar and Anand Sharma who joined Azad at a function organised by the Gandhi Global family in a show of strength by the ‘G-23’ faction of the party.

These leaders were among the 23 Congress members who had recently written to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking an organisational overhaul.

“We feel the Congress is getting weak and time has come to rejuvenate the party to make it regain its lost glory,” Sibal said in his address to the function.

“Why we came together here?” Sibal questioned to answer, “The truth is that we are feeling the Congress is getting weak. And therefore we came together, like in the past, to work for strengthening the party.”

Taking a pledge from the podium, he said there are many leaders who were not present at the function who support them, and “we will sacrifice whatever is necessary to make the nation and the party strong.”

“We want the Congress to be strengthened in every district of the country. We do not want the Congress to be weak as, if the Congress is weak, the nation is weak,” he said.

“What is the real role of Azad?” he asked, equating him with a pilot and an engineer manning an airplane and said he knows the party at the grassroots level across the country. “I fail to understand why the Congress is not utilising his experience.”

He said the Congress is freeing Azad from Parliament which “we do not want because since he came into politics, he has played his role for the party and gained a lot of experience over the years.”

Sibal said they came here to take the Congress to newer heights. “We promise those who are sitting here and many more who are outside and support us that we will work to strengthen the party.

Taking on the BJP-led government, the Congress leader said Mahatma Gandhi treaded the path of truth but this “government is peddling lies”.

“Gandhiji was embracing non-violence while this government was embracing violence. They are talking about Gandhiji but they do not adopt his truthfulness or non-violence,” he said.

“What is the issue before the nation?” he asked and claimed that the “BJP is using the resources to strengthen the party and not the people of the country”.

“They are conspiring and using the money power to bring down our elected governments and silencing the right-thinking people and anyone speaking against them by misusing the government agencies. It is happening in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere as well,” he said.

He said, “We have to end dictatorship and for that we have to start a new freedom struggle. We have sounded the bugle from here and it will be taken to every nook and corner of the country.”

He also took a dig at the BJP-led government for downgrading Jammu and Kashmir to the status of a union territory and said the people of the erstwhile state need their representatives to govern them.

He said 130 core people of the country cannot be run by a few capitalists. “We will not take it and will educate people about the present dispensation.”

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