Boycotting 2018 Panchayat polls ‘a huge mistake’, says Farooq



Srinagar: Re-elected National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Monday said boycotting the panchayat polls in 2018 was “a huge mistake” and the party must contest every future election in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah also warned the government and the security forces not to interfere in any election process.
The former Union Minister had expressed a desire to step down from the post owing to his health during a recent party meeting. After his re-election, he said though he wanted to step aside and let the younger leadership run the party, he was persuaded to continue as “we are passing through a very difficult phase”.
“I want to tell the party that boycotting the panchayat elections (in 2018) was a huge mistake. Remember this, we will not boycott any coming election. Instead (we will) contest and win them,” Abdullah said while addressing the party’s delegate session where he was re-elected unopposed as National Conference (NC) president.
Referring to his son Omar Abdullah’s announcement that he would not contest elections as long as Jammu and Kashmir remained a Union Territory, the senior Abdullah said, “As party president, I am telling you (Omar Abdullah) that you have to contest the election.”
“Because if we have to fight them, then we all have to jump into the fray and contest elections,” he added.
The former Union minister said the BJP “will do anything, even make attempts to buy your loyalties, but God will fail all their designs”.
Abdullah also warned the security forces and the government not to interfere in the elections in Jammu and Kashmir and said “let people decide whom to vote for”.
“Otherwise, there will be such a storm, which you will not be able to control,” he said. Abdullah also threatened to launch an agitation in case such a thing occurred.
“We will be ready to sacrifice our lives. Farooq Abdullah will be the first to start an agitation over that,” he said.
He said the government “had shut July 13 from us, but we will mark it again once again one day”.
He was referring to the removal of July 13 — which commemorates the killing of 23 persons protesting against the autocratic rule in Jammu and Kashmir by Dogra forces in 1931 — from the holiday list.
“They cannot be forgotten. They sacrificed their lives for this state,” he added.
Abdullah said, “There is a war on our identity. They thought Article 370 was only for Muslims in Kashmir. But today, the people of Jammu have understood that articles 35A and 370 were good for them also.
“Today, our offices are filled with officers from outside. Are Kashmiris not good enough? We are being made slaves and are being taken towards slavery. But this slavery will not remain. God willing, this slavery will see its funeral one day,” he said.
The veteran leader said, “You have to keep courage. There will be injustices and they have nothing except that. They will do it but God will punish them in hell.
“I want to tell them to stop these injustices with the people here. Otherwise, an earthquake may come which you will not be able to withstand.”
The NC chief said those in positions of power in the current administration would be held answerable in front of the people.
“They will stand before you, God willing, and if they do not seek an apology, then do not call me Farooq Abdullah. That day will come as I have faith in my God and you. A change will come here. Democracy will flourish, Kashmiriyat will flourish and justice will be done,” he added. He also appealed to the delegates to maintain brotherhood, saying “it is our biggest power”.