Won’t contest polls till J&K special status back: Mehbooba

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Written by Naveed Iqbal
| Srinagar |

October 24, 2020 4:36:17 am





PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti addressing her first press conference after being released from 14 months long detention. (Express Photo)

Declaring that she will have “nothing to do with elections” till J&K’s special status under the Constitution is restored, PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said Friday that she will raise the Tricolour only when the J&K state flag is also restored.

Following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the J&K state flag, which used to fly along with the Tricolour atop the civil secretariat building in Srinagar, was removed.

“My flag is in front of me. When this flag is restored to us, we will raise the other flag (Tricolour) also. But until that happens, we will not hold any other flag in our hands. Hamara uss jhande se rishta is jhande ne banaya hai, it is not independent of this flag,” Mehbooba Mufti told reporters, pointing to the flag of the erstwhile state placed before her along with the PDP flag.

In her first press conference following her release from over 14 months of detention under ‘Will raise Tricolour when J&K flag back… won’t contest till special status restored’ the Public Safety Act, she said no matter how hard the Centre tries to discredit J&K’s mainstream parties, it will not be able to do so.

“They are trying to replace this country’s Constitution with the BJP manifesto, and this will not last long,” she said.

“The people of J&K are expendable to them (Centre), what they want is territory. This country will run on the Constitution, not BJP’s manifesto,” she said.

Referring to the constitutional changes stripping J&K of its special status, Mufti said “what has been snatched away from us, will be taken back… this is a political battle that we will fight peacefully.”

She said her struggle will not be confined to seeking restoration of Article 370 but will go beyond “for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute”.

Emphasising that she is “not for power”, Mufti urged the people of J&K to stand with the political leadership that has come together as the People’s Alliance. “I have no interest in elections. The Constitution, under which I contested elections, till it is restored to us, I have nothing to do with elections.”

“By forcefully taking away our rights from us on August 5, they have torn the Constitution to shreds. Even if they had 500 members in Parliament, they did not have the power to snatch away Article 370 or 35A, they don’t have those powers. The Constitution of India lends those powers to the Constituent Assembly of J&K,” she said.

Referring to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, Mufti said it is going to be “a long-drawn fight.” She said the actions of August 5, 2019 were perpetuated through the BJPs “brute majority” in Parliament.

On the upcoming elections to the District Development Councils and whether her party would be willing to cede space to the BJP by not contesting elections, Mufti said the People’s Alliance will take a final call on these issues.

“This is not just about BJP, but its cronies as well. People have to survive. We will weigh the pros and cons and take a decision under the leadership of Farooq Abdullah, and we will do what is right,” she said.

Stating that the BJP did not stop at J&K, she accused it of “polarising the country” by passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, trampling the rights of minorities, and then bringing in the new farm laws.

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