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Ex-minister quits as NC spokesperson amid debate in party over J&K statehood

“I have sent across my resignation from the post of Chief Spokesperson of @JKNC. From here on none of my statements should be considered as such,” Ruhullah tweeted on Tuesday.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: July 29, 2020 1:19:28 am
Aga Syed Ruhullah; Omar Abdullah

Senior National Conference (NC) leader Aga Syed Ruhullah on Tuesday resigned as the party’s chief spokesperson.

While Ruhullah, a former minister in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, remained silent over his resignation, it is apparently a fallout of the party leadership’s silence over the Centre’s decision to abrogate J&K’s special status in August 2019.

“I have sent across my resignation from the post of Chief Spokesperson of @JKNC. From here on none of my statements should be considered as such,” Ruhullah tweeted on Tuesday.

The resignation came two months after he had dropped the NC chief spokesperson tag from his Twitter bio, ostensibly to show his displeasure about an opinion article written by his colleague Tanvir Sadiq, which was seen by many as the party’s official line.

Immediately after he tweeted his resignation, Ruhullah, detained at home since August 5 last year, switched off his phones and went incommunicado.

The resignation comes a day after NC president Farooq Abdullah and party vice-president Omar Abdullah broke their silence on the issue of abrogation of J&K’s special status and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories.

Ruhullah’s resignation on Tuesday has highlighted differences within the party.

When contacted on Tuesday, Omar refused to comment.

On Monday, Omar, in an opinion piece for The Indian Express, wrote that he will not contest the Assembly elections as long as J&K remains a UT.

In a subsequent interview — his first in a year — Omar said it would be a “challenge” for the NC to find a political plank. “I can’t speak for the party but I will not support a slogan that is mere lip-service or hoodwinking. I think we need to be honest with people, even if it means that in the short term we will be less attractive to people than we would like to be,” he had said when asked whether NC would change its autonomy slogan after abrogation of special status.

In the Valley, Omar’s statements are seen as NC’s reconciliation to the abrogation of special status and limiting the party’s fight for restoration of statehood.

In May, Ruhullah was the first NC leader to speak out since August 2019 when he asked what is stopping NC and its leaders from expressing the party’s “principled stand” on abrogation of special status and downgrading of the state into two UTs.

In an interview with The Indian Express, Ruhullah had said it is true that the Centre’s response could be “ugly and brutal” if the party breaks its silence over the twin issues, but asked his NC colleagues to be “ready for that”.

A three-time MLA, Ruhullah is from the influential Aga clan, a strong Shia clergy that holds sway on Shia population in central Kashmir. He was brought into politics by Farooq Abdullah after the assassination of his father, Aga Syed Mehdi, in an IED blast by militants in 2000. A strong voice in the party, he was seen as close to former CM Omar Abdullah.

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