Bhim Singh’s removal from post of NPP patron ”unfortunate”: Omar Abdullah

Omar Abdullah was in Kalakote to meet family members of senior NC leader and former legislator Thakur Rachpal Singh who died of COVID-19 on September 7.
Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah

Jammu, Nov 8: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday described the removal of NPP patron Bhim Singh from his post for attending a Gupkar alliance meeting as “unfortunate” and said the amalgam is ready to meet anyone, even BJP leaders.

The National Panthers Party (NPP) on Saturday removed Singh, who is also its founder, from the post, saying “there is no place in the party for those who disrespect Jammu region”s sentiment”.

Singh had attended the meeting of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) at the Bathindi residence of National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah here.

The PAGD is an alliance of seven mainstream political parties of J&K, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that are demanding restoration of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It (sacking of NPP leader from his post) is unfortunate. We have never said that we will meet only those who accept our opinion,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister, told reporters at Kalakote in Rajouri district.

“We were ready to meet everyone, even BJP leaders, although if they would have come, they would have said ”we do not accept your slogan of restoration of Article 370 and Article 35 A. We would have listened to them as well,” he said.

The Centre on August 5 last year had abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The NC leader said that “we have never said that we will meet like-minded people only.”

“Singh, in fact, spoke differently and told us that he does not accept Article 35A and will only accept Article 370 if certain changes are made to it,” Omar Abdullah said.

Omar Abdullah said he did not think there was a need to remove Singh from his post, but added that “it is the internal matter of the party (NPP)”.

Terming the the first meeting of the PAGD in Jammu on Saturday as “successful”, he said that “around 26 delegations with different thoughts met them”.

“The aim for the Jammu visit was to meet all sections of society and people of different opinions, whether in the form of organisations, delegations or individuals. We have been successful in this to a large extent and our meetings with the people will continue,” the NC leader said.

He said if the PAGD was to meet only like-minded people, then they would have sat back in Kashmir and had not moved to Jammu.

The Gupkar alliance leadership at the meeting also announced that parties which are part of the amalgam will fight the upcoming District Development Council elections unitedly.

Asked whether this unity will continue during the assembly elections, he said there is no chance of early elections to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

“If there would have been no delimitation commission, there were chances of assembly polls, but the government has set up the delimitation commission which is yet to start the work at the ground level due to the outbreak of the coronavirus,” Omar Abdullah said.

Responding to another question about the controversial statement of PDP president and PAGD vice chairperson Mehbooba Mufti on the tricolor, he said she and her party have already responded to the issue.

Omar Abdullah was in Kalakote to meet family members of senior NC leader and former legislator Thakur Rachpal Singh who died of COVID-19 on September 7.

“I have come here to express my condolences to the family and workers of the party on the demise of my colleague as I could not visit them till date. There is no political motivation behind the visit. I have come here to express my sympathies and stand with them,” he said.

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