Redrawn map showing two UTs of J&K, and Ladakh

Srinagar: Hours after National Conference vice president and former J&K chief minister, Omar Abdullah had declared that he wouldn’t contest Assembly elections till J&K is a Union Territory, Bharatiya Janata Party National Vice president Avinash Rai Khanna Monday said that Jammu & Kashmir “will be granted statehood once the situation improves”.

“As for statehood to the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, it will happen at the right time,” Avinash Rai Khanna told news agency Kashmir In-depth News Service over phone from New Delhi.

 

“The government has promised statehood to the J&K UT. I assure you that the government will fulfil its promise at the appropriate time,” he said.

He said that the “rights of local people will be preserved in the region.”

In his article published in The Indian Express on Monday, Omar Abdullah said he would not contest elections till J&K remains a Union Territory.

Expressing his opinion for the first time since August 5 last year, the National Conference vice president, who was detained for months following the abrogation of Article 370, wrote:  “I am very clear that while J&K remains a Union Territory I will not be contesting any Assembly elections. Having been a member of the most empowered Assembly in the land and that, too, as the leader of that Assembly for six years, I simply cannot and will not be a member of a House that has been disempowered the way ours has.”

Omar said he failed to understand why J&K was downgraded to a Union Territory “except to punish and humiliate the people of the state”.

To mention, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had told the Parliament on August 5 that statehood would be restored “once the situation improves”.

Sources, meanwhile, say that BJP is learnt to have asked the local leadership to raise the pitch for return of full-state status.

Interestingly, senior BJP leader from J&K and former MLC Sofi Yusuf has said that they would protest after August 5 for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Some people want to divide Jammu and Kashmir but we won’t let that happen. BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav has said that statehood should return to Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP leaders and workers will protest for return of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir after August 5. We hope the government will consider it,” Sofi Yusuf had told KINS.

National Conference patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday called for restoration of its statehood and hoped the Supreme Court would render justice by striking down the repeal of Article 370 provisions.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has also demanded restoration of statehood and conducting assembly elections in J&K during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday evening.

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Altaf Bukhari has also demanded that statehood of J&K should be restored on August 5, when it was split last year into two Union Territories. (KINS inputs)

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