Will Announce New Party in 10 Days, Fight for Restoration of Statehood: Azad

The former Congress leader said he will not mislead people by promising the restoration of Article 370.

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New Delhi: Former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday said his new party will be revealed in ten days, adding that the outfit will have an independent ideology and fight for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)

Addressing a public meeting at Dak Bungalow Baramulla in north Kashmir, Azad said, “I thank my colleagues who stand with me and are the base of my new party which, God willing, will be announced within the next 10 days.”

The former leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha said his new party will focus on the restoration of statehood to J&K, giving exclusive rights over jobs and land to its people and bringing development. However, Azad said that he “will not mislead the people over the issue of Article 370” as only a government with a two-thirds majority in parliament can ensure the restoration of the provision.

The provision, diluted by parliament in August 2019, gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Azad knows what can and cannot be done. I or the Congress party or three regional parties cannot give you back Article 370, neither can (TMC chief) Mamata Banerjee, or DMK or (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar,” Azad said in his maiden rally in Kashmir Valley after quitting the Congress last month.

The former Union minister said he will not raise issues over which he has no control.

“Some people have been saying that I don’t talk about Article 370. I want to tell them that Azad does not befool people for electoral gains,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.

“I swear before God that I will not mislead you. I will not raise such slogans or issues over which I have no control,” he said.

Azad said only a party with a two-thirds majority in parliament can restore the special status of the erstwhile state which was revoked by the Centre in August 2019.

“Congress party hasn’t been able to achieve more than 85 Lok Sabha seats in the last ten years. Its strength is decreasing in the Rajya Sabha with every state loss… I don’t think the Congress can get over 350 seats in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

“Where can I get it from? Why mislead people?” he asked.

The former J&K chief minister said he would not promise the moon and stars to the people but only those things that can be achieved.

Azad ended his five-decade-long association with the Congress last month.

He rejected Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari’s allegation that he had voted in favour of the dilution of Article 370 in parliament.

(With PTI inputs)