Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah on Monday said that only National Conference could save Jammu and Kashmir from imminent political harm as a consequence of the unholy PDP-BJP alliance that was forged with the sole intention of attaining political power.
Omar Abdullah said the PDP-BJP Government in the State had been “exposed as a complete failure as mis-governance and corruption had become endemic in the State” within just the first year of its tenure. “Tall promises of the PDP-BJP Government both on the Governance front as well as the Political front have been exposed as hollow rhetoric. There isn’t a single area or locality in the State today where people are not out on the roads protesting against the Government’s inefficiency and insensitivity. As for the political promises, the promises of AFSPA revocation, return of power projects, talks with separatists and the alleged ‘battle of ideas’ – every single promise has been abandoned,” the National Conference Working President said in Srinagar.
Addressing party leaders, legislators, workers and activists at the certificate distribution ceremony for those workers who had donated blood on the first anniversary of the 2014 floods, Omar Abdullah said there wasn’t a single flood victim in the State who had received fair or adequate compensation from the Government and every single affected victim had to dig into his own pockets and accrue debt to make their homes inhabitable again. “When the State was ravaged by the devastating floods in September 2014, National Conference sought a deferment of the Assembly Elections with a considered, humanitarian view that the rehabilitation of the flood victims should be the first priority of the Administration and Government Machinery at that time. We were the only party to take this stand while other parties portrayed this as our selfishness in remaining at the helm of affairs. Other political parties wanted their own political rehabilitation before the rehabilitation of the flood victims. At that time, I knew the State Government should try and get as many relief and rehabilitation funds from the Union Government as possible before the Assembly Elections in the State knowing well that the BJP-led Central Government, especially after the imminent failure of its Mission 44+ in J&K, would be less inclined to approve a Comprehensive Flood Package post elections. Sadly other political parties chose partisan politics over this enormous humanitarian disaster and PDP was at the forefront of this insensitive betrayal with the flood victims,” Omar Abdullah said.
Those who were fortunate enough and affluent enough had to dig into their own pockets to make their homes inhabitable again, while thousands had to accrue huge debts to repair their homes and shops. This is the story of thousands of flood victims and there isn’t a single flood victim with whom the Government has done justice. During his visit to the State during the floods, the Prime Minister said he was willing to not only help this side of Kashmir but would also be glad to help the other side of Kashmir to cope with this tragedy. I’m glad the Kashmiris living on the other side of the Line of Control didn’t accept this offer and bank on it or they would have been waiting too for the first glimpse of relief till today. The Central Government charged money from the State Government even for helicopters that were used for rescue and relief work. We got a whopping bill of 550 crores for those helicopters. New Delhi didn’t pay for a single nut-bolt in those rescue and relief operations. When you compare this sad reality to the tall rhetoric and flowery speeches of the Prime Minister, you cannot help but be disappointed,” the NC Working President added.
“Today our shopkeepers are literally broke and struggling to keep their shops open and running. The local economy is in a state of ruin and stagnation. Neither does the consumer have the money to buy nor does the vendor have the money to buy inventory to stock his shop. Banks have come knocking on the doors of entrepreneurs and business owners asking for their EMIs. Loan recoveries have started and those who lost everything in the floods are being expected to repay not only their loans but also the entire interest amounts despite PDP having promised widespread loan and interest waiver for flood victims as a hollow election promise,” Omar Abdullah further said.
The NC Working President said the 80,000 crore Union government Package had proved to be old wine in an old bottle with nothing substantial for the flood victims. “When the package was announced, people clapped in appreciation assuming the Central Government had gone far and above the 40,000 crore proposed package that was submitted and demanded by the previous Government. However, when we opened the newspapers the next day and investigated the contents of the package we realized that not only was this old wine but it was also packaged in an old bottle. Only the label was changed. The UPA label was taken down and the NDA label was put in its place. How do funds for the National Highway, for the Zojila Tunnel or for the Solar Project in Ladakh aim to benefit the flood victims? Barely 2,000 crores, if at all – directly and indirectly have been allocated for the flood victims. The abandonment of the flood victims has come to be the sadistic hallmark of the government,” he said.
“What is the present State Government doing? There isn’t a single area of locality where people are not protesting against the Government. Mis-governance and corruption have become endemic within the very first year of the PDP-BJP Government’s tenure. They have increased the power bill and tariff but reduced the daily power supply. There isn’t a single locality which has not been pushed into darkness in the harsh cold of the winter. The Power Minister had stated on the floor of the Assembly that 23 hour power supply would be extended to metered areas. There isn’t a single area or locality in Srinagar that has 24 hour electricity supply today. The situation in rural areas, suburbs and far flung areas is deplorable – with some areas witnessing power cuts for ten hours to twenty hours at a stretch. Was this the change they promised? People are suffering because of the insensitivity of this Government,” Omar Abdullah added.