Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday declared himself the chief ministerial candidate of his National Conference in the Assembly elections in the state.
“I am hopeful that the next government will be headed by me,” Omar told reporters on the sidelines of the Independence Day function here.
Asked about the opposition criticism that he was emptying the state coffers on populist measures as a last ditch effort ahead of Assembly elections, Omar said he was contesting the polls to win.
“Don’t think that I am emptying the treasury for the next person. As far as I am concerned, I am fighting these elections to win them and not to lose them,” he said.
Former Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank Haseeb Drabu, who is contesting the forthcoming elections on a PDP ticket, has criticised the state government’s fiscal policy through his write-ups in local newspapers.
“Government will be decided by the people and not by those writing columns in newspapers. We will see the acumen of the people when they take oath and become finance minister, if it comes to that.We have seen their work when they were in position of power,” Omar said.
Addressing the people on Independence Day, the Chief Minister appealed to the people of the Valley to make use of their power to vote as it helps in development while stating that “boycott politics” of separatists has not achieved anything.
“I am not going to tell you who you should vote for but please make use of your right to vote as it helps in development process.It is because of the votes in 2008 that we have been able to achieve so much in the past five and half years,” he said.
The Chief Minister announced two sops for the people of the state on the occasion of Independence Day – reduction in electricity duty from 22 per cent to 10 per cent and five percent reservation for Pahari speaking people.
“There were many complaints about billing.The electricity rates are fixed by SERC.We have the authority of reducing the duty which is 22 per cent. On Friday I want to give a gift to the people of the state and reduce the duty by 12 per cent to 10 per cent,” Omar said.
Omar said there has been a long pending demand by Pahari-speaking people and OBC for including them in reservation quota.
“We had demanded the Centre give Schedule Tribe status to Pahari people.Many governments came and went but no action. We have a seven per cent reservation available and we have used it,” Omar said.
He said five per cent reservation will be given to Pahari speaking people and enhanced to four per cent from two percent the reservation for OBC.
Omar said the state government will keep on raising this issue with the Centre.
“We were hoping that the UPA government will announce the reservation for Pahari-speaking people but it did not happen,” he said.
Omar said the state government was also preparing an amnesty scheme which will be announced in the next couple of days.