Everyone should take part in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly election whenever it is held and the Congress should start preparing for it, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday.
In a brief interaction with reporters outside his residence in Jammu, Azad to a question about the possibility of assembly election in the Union Territory said that as of now, the delimitation exercise is on.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister is in the city on a three-day visit and on his arrival at the airport, supporters demanded that Congress leaders, who burnt his effigy during a protest in March, be expelled.
When told during the interaction with reporters that the BJP had already started preparing for the assembly polls, Azad said that all parties, including the Congress, should make preparations. “All people should take part in the elections,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls are likely to be held after the completion of the delimitation exercise in the Union Territory.
PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had announced that she will not contest elections until both the constitutions of India and the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir are made applicable to J&K.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre had abrogated the special status of the erstwhile stated of J&K and bifurcated into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
“Personally, it (abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A of the Constitution) is a very emotional for me. I contested the first election taking oath under the constitutions of India and the state. I took both flags in my hands. Until both constitutions will not be (existing) together (in J&K), I have said I will not personally contest elections,” Mehbooba had said.
On the Pegasus snooping row, Azad said the opposition has already raised the issue in Parliament and are demanding a discussion on it.
“I am on a three-day tour of Jammu and am available for every one across the Jammu division, including my own party workers and others who want to discuss their problems with me,” the Congress leader said.
He expressed grief over the loss of the lives and damage to property in the recent cloudbursts in Kishtwar, Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and other hilly areas, and expressed hope that the government will take care of victims and their families.
Earlier, a large number of Congress workers assembled outside the Jammu airport to receive Azad and raised slogans in his support.
“We have assembled here to demand ouster of all those who took part in a protest against Azad and set ablaze his effigy,” Congress leader and JMC councillor Gaurav Chopra said.
He was referring to the protest staged by a group of Congress workers led by former general secretary and District Development Council (DDC) member Mohammad Shahnawaz Choudhary outside the press club here on March 2.
The first-of-its-kind protest against Azad by members of his own party came days after a rally addressed by ‘G-23’ leaders ostensibly to felicitate Azad on his retirement from Rajya Sabha. The rally was seen as a show of strength to convey a message to the party leadership.
The Group of 23 or ‘G-23’ leaders had demanded an overhaul of the Congress party organisation.
Chopra on the same day in March had led a counter-protest against Choudhary and said that “a person who fought the recently held DDC elections against the party mandate is not a Congressman and is working on the directions of the BJP and the RSS to weaken the Congress.”