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In J&K, state was downgraded to UT, it’s like demoting CM to MLA: Ghulam Nabi Azad

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Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has hit out at the Centre, saying downgrading of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir to Union Territory was like demoting a chief minister to the post of MLA.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday hit out at the central government for stripping the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was like demoting a chief minister to the post of MLA.

“Usually, UTs are upgraded to state. But in our case, state was downgraded to UT. It’s like demoting DGP to post of thanedaar, CM to MLA, and chief secretary to Patwari. No wise man can do this,” Azad was quoted as saying at an event in Kulgam.

On the Centre’s intention to conduct polls in the UT, Ghulam Nabi Azad said it was not feasible to conduct polls during the next four months of winter.

“The next four months are not feasible for elections and even if they (Centre) wanted, we would have said no. We all had said in the all-party meet (called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June) that the statehood be restored first and then the delimitation be taken up.

“But, the government did not accept that. So, they should conclude the delimitation process till February and once the winter gets over, conduct the elections in April,” Azad said.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also a former chief ministers of the erstwhile state of J&K, said the priority was not who becomes the chief minister but how to restore the August 4, 2019 position in the UT.

“The priority is not about the chief minister, it is not the issue. The priority is how to restore the August 4, 2019 position… which will happen by restoring the statehood and then having the assembly elections,” media quoted him as saying.

Azad said the demand for the restoration of statehood was not Kashmir-centric. “There is no fight on the statehood. Hindu brothers in Jammu, Sikhs, Muslims in Kashmir and even Pandits want statehood. No one should presume that only Kashmiris want the statehood, I have said it continuously and even in the all-party meet that even BJP leaders want statehood,” he said.

Last month, Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that the situation in J&K was better before the abrogation of Article 370. “We were told that scenario in J&K will change after the abrogation of Art 370. Growth, hospitals, unemployment will be taken care of. But that has not happened at all. As a matter of fact, we were far better when it was being ruled by various CMs,” media quoted him as saying.

“So, we are a great loser. We are a great loser after the state has been divided into two. We are a great loser ever since the Assembly has been dissolved,” he added.

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