Omar should have contested from Srinagar, would have been asset in Parliament: Karan Singh

Omar Abdullah would have been an asset in Parliament had he won, Singh, 93, said as he termed as "dramatic" Engineer Rashid's win from the Baramulla seat.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 13:50 IST

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Srinagar: Veteran Congress leader Karan Singh on Sunday said Omar Abdullah made a "mistake" by contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla instead of Srinagar -- a bastion of the National Conference that was won by its candidate Aga Ruhullah Mehdi.

Omar Abdullah would have been an asset in Parliament had he won, Singh, 93, said as he termed as "dramatic" Engineer Rashid's win from the Baramulla seat by more than two lakh votes despite he being in jail under provisions of the UAPA and contesting the polls as an Independent.

Karan Singh, the son of the last Dogra ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh, said he was not sure if Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as 'Engineer Rashid', would be released from jail but his win has sent a message that the people are not happy with the BJP.

"Omar made the same mistake that I did by moving from Udhampur (Lok Sabha seat) to Jammu. He moved from Srinagar to Baramulla. He should not have done that. He should have fought from Srinagar," he said during an interview with PTI on Saturday.

"We needed him in Parliament. It would have been useful if Omar would have been in Parliament. He would have been an asset," Singh said.

The Congress leader had won from the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat on a ticket from his party in 1967, 1971, 1977 and 1980. He lost the parliamentary elections when he moved to Jammu to fight as an Independent in 1984.

On Awami Ittehad Party leader Rashid, Singh said, "He made his foray into politics very dramatically. I do not know whether he will be released but the fact that he won from jail is sending a message that people are not entirely happy with the existing party (the BJP at the Centre). Is it not?" Singh, who was the "Sadr-i-Riyasat" of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir from 1952 to 1965, also called for the restoration of statehood and conducting assembly elections in J-K.

In 2019, the Centre had abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to the state of J-K, and bifurcated it into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh "Today's Jammu and Kashmir is totally different from that of the Maharaja's. We had a very special position which has disappeared now. Not only that but now as a Union Territory, we are even junior to (states like) Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which is really not acceptable," Singh said.

"I would say one of the first things that is needed now is the restoration of statehood and elections. To elect for the Union Territory is like electing for a glorified municipal council. The Union Territory does not have any power," he said.

Praising the Congress for its performance in the Lok Sabha polls, he said the INDIA bloc is taking shape and the Uttar Pradesh results are a testament of that.

In the 2024 polls, the Congress increased its tally of seats from 52 to 99. In Uttar Pradesh, it won six seats and its INDIA bloc ally Samajwadi Party (SP) 37 of the 80 seats in the state, restricting the BJP to 33. The BJP had won 62, the SP five and Congress one in the 2019 polls.

"It is not only the Congress now, the INDIA alliance is also taking shape. What happened in Uttar Pradesh in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls? The collaboration between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress ended up in getting a majority of seats. I think, it will take a little more time for the INDIA formation to gel but it will gel definitely," Singh said.

On National Conference founder and Omar Adullah's grandfather Sheikh Abdullah, Singh said though he was a "great leader" and the people of the Kashmir Valley will never see a leader like him again, he had "demonised" the glorious era of the Dogra dynasty by running a "polarised political campaign" in the then princely state.

Singh said, "Sheikh Abdullah, during his rule (as prime minister and chief minister of J-K), took discriminatory and radical decisions including the land reforms...He was a Kashmiri leader who was not able to convert that leadership even into Jammu or Ladakh or anywhere else." On the outbreak of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990’s, Singh said the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was a terrible tragedy and it will take a long time for those wounds to heal.

"I think people are realising now that they have to move on with their lives and not just look into the past. I have never looked back, neither in anger nor in regret," he added.

Expressing concern over the spike in terror incidents in the Jammu region, Singh underlined the importance of thwarting nefarious designs of the enemies of the nation to create a communal divide.

Ten people, including seven pilgrims going to a temple on a bus, were killed and scores injured in four terror incidents in Reasi, Kathua and Doda in the Jammu region this month.

"The biggest threat of course is terrorism and any kind of communal division within the state. That is to be avoided at all costs. My ancestors founded this state. Do not forget. It is a Dogra State. It did not exist before (first Dogra ruler) Maharaja Gulab Singh," he said.

Singh said even though today, Jammu and Kashmir may have been reduced to a Union Territory but it is still the Dogra state.

"It is a composite state; a mix of Gilgitis, Ladakhis, Kashmiris, Gujjars, Punjabi Muslims and Dogras. It has never been a single entity state and that must be maintained. More or less, I must say that in 100 years of Dogra rule, we were able to maintain harmony and peace in the state," he added.

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Published 23 June 2024, 13:50 IST

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