SRINAGAR, June 26;Promoting his party National Conference’s coalition with Congress, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday predicted the birth of UPA-3 in 2014 but talked tough against the BJP’s election plank of the annulment of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Addressing a well-attended public rally after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi flagged off the train service connecting Qazigund and Banihal, Mr Abdullah castigated the BJP for raising the “bogey of Article 370”. He said that nobody could weaken or revoke Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir and holding bondage between the State and the country.
“BJP has developed a trait to deceive the people on this issue as soon as elections draw nearer. We the people of Jammu and Kashmir categorically tell them that revocation of Article 370 is not possible at all and any attempt by anyone on this sensitive issue would be on our dead bodies”, Mr Abdullah asserted. “BJP did never raise this issue in the last six years”, he pointed out.
Mr Abdullah challenged BJP to just try an attempt of obliterating Article 370. “You have to do it on our dead bodies”, he said, while expecting NC and Congress to jointly contest the BJP’s “divisive and communal tactics”.
Mr. Abdullah predicted the birth of UPA-3 in the upcoming Lok Sabha election next year. “I am sure Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi would be here to flag off train on the Banihal-Katra leg, connecting the entire Jammu and Kashmir State to the rest of the country”, he said.
The Chief Minister said that the 11 km long tunnel across the Pir Panjal mountain range would bring about a revolutionary change and strengthen the State’s physical integration with the rest of India. “It has not only connected the two physically divided regions but also joined hearts”, Mr Abdullah said.
Manmohan, Sonia on inaugural joyride
Minutes before addressing a gathering at Banihal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms. Sonia Gandhi flagged off the flower-bedecked train. Surprisingly for the media crews and thousands of their followers, the coalition partners boarded the same train and enjoyed an inaugural joyride through the country’s longest railway tunnel from Banihal (Jammu province) to Lavidara, near Qazigund town in Kashmir valley and back.
A number of young students and the state leaders, legislators and Ministers of the NC and Congress, traveled through the 11 Km long tube beneath Pir Panjal mountain range with the Prime Minister’s encourage and a thick Special Protection Group security cover.
Governor Narender Nath Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Union Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge, Union Minister for Health Ghulam Nabi Azad and President of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Saifuddin Soz were also on board the eight-coach train that significantly reduced the 35 Km distance between Qazigund and Banihal to 18 Kms.