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Won’t waste time on statehood to J-K as it is already promised: Omar

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Srinagar, May 12 (PTI) National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday said restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir is not an issue for his party in the Lok Sabha polls, asserting that it will get the statehood anyway in view of commitment by the prime minister and the Union home minister.

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Abdullah also said the results of the Lok Sabha polls will have an impact on the upcoming assembly elections in the Union territory.

"Statehood is not an issue for us. Our battle is not for statehood, we will get the statehood anyway. Why should we waste people's time on an issue that the PM and the home minister is committed to?" Abdullah told reporters in Kupwara district where he was campaigning.

The former chief minister is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Baramulla which will vote on May 20.

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"If this government somehow comes back to power, which seems increasingly impossible now, they are committed to restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. If the government changes, which we are hoping for, our effort will be that we get full statehood before the assembly elections take place," he added.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha in December last year, Home Minister Amit Shah had assured the country that full statehood would be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at an appropriate time.

Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement on transformation of Jammu and Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370, Abdullah said the BJP should have fielded their own candidates in Kashmir if that were the case.

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"If there has been so much (positive) change in J-K, why have they not fielded a party candidate in Kashmir? What is the need for contesting the elections through proxy candidates? They should have fielded their own candidates. Maybe, we would have lost our security deposit. Who would have voted for us when BJP candidates had been there!" he added.

In response to a question, the NC leader said the results of the Lok Sabha elections will have an impact on assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir which are to be held before September 2024 in view of the directions of the Supreme Court.

"There will be an impact on assembly elections because there are not even two months left. This election will finish in June and we are hopeful that in August-September there will be assembly elections," he said.

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The NC leader said the party campaign in the ongoing polls is not focusing on development but the political issue with the Centre.

"We will talk about development but this election is not about development. When we know that within two months assembly elections will happen, the NC manifesto and its candidates will be more focused on development. In this election, we are more focused on the political issue with the Centre," he added.

On jailed politician Abdul Rashid Sheikh alias Engineer Rashid, Abdullah questioned the justification for keeping the former MLA in jail for so long when the charges have not been framed against him.

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"I don't know if his bail application is pending...if it is not, he should apply for bail. As far as I know, charges have not been framed against him. He has been in jail for a long time now.

"If you have not been able to frame charges against him for so long, then there is no justification to keep him in jail. Everyone knows who is behind Engineer Rashid's arrest. If the government (at the Centre) changes in June and our government is formed (here) in September, this process of arrests will be ended," he said.

On speculation that PDP has supported the candidature of Rashid in the Baramulla constituency, Abdullah said the rival party has refuted these claims. PTI MIJ KVK KVK

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