National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah on Monday asked his party-men and Congress to "stand united in true sense to defeat the enemy" in the upcoming by-polls to Srinagar-Budgam and Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary seats. He also urged the people to vote for them and "defeat the communal forces."
"This election is going to be very tough and they will use all kinds of propaganda," Abdullah told a joint rally of NC-Congress workers at Nawa-i-Subuh here after filing his nomination papers.
Abdullah, the former Chief Minister, said the upcoming election was not only a battle to "save Kashmir but the entire nation from the fire of communalism and polarization that is being fanned and spread across the length and breadth of this country."
Abdullah was accompanied by his son and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, State Congress President G.A Mir, Congress leader Tariq Hamid Karra and other leaders from both the parties to District Commissioner's Office here where he filed his nomination. The by-election to Srinagar constituency has been necessitated by the resignation of Karra from the Lok Sabha in September last year as a mark of protest against 'brutalities' on civilian protesters. Both National Conference and Congress have decided to fight the election together.
Asking people to vote for NC-Congress alliance, Abdullah said: "Today, time has come for the people to make both of us (Abdullah and Mir) win so that we both will enter the Parliament and shake the conscience of members there and warn them that those who are digging grave for us will themselves fall into it. Without making better relations with Pakistan, peace cannot be restored in Kashmir."
Pointing towards Karra, Abdullah said: "We have fought many battles together in the past. We are fighting a big battle now and we have to fight together to defeat the enemy."
He assured Congress' Mir, who is contesting from Anantnag-Pulwama seat, that his workers would stand behind him and vote for him in the election. "I have made this promise and we will keep it," he said. "We will walk together in this battle and win it together".
Referring to concerns over "rise" of right-wing forces across India, Abdullah said: "The fire of communalism and polarization that is being fanned and is spreading across the length and breadth of this country needs to be stopped before it engulfs our values and robs us of our rights, our sense of dignity and our special constitutional status. Unity against these forces is the need of the hour and this is an opportunity to come together and rise over all our differences to stand in defense of our dignity and our respect. Our success in this battle of principles depends on our ability to forge unity among our ranks in the pursuit of this common objective," Abdullah said.
Speaking on the occasion, J&K Congress Chief and candidate for Anantnag parliamentary Seat, Ghulam Ahmed Mir said both parties have come together to defeat the RSS and the BJP and were committed to "fighting against communalism and tyranny."
"We will protect the State from the onslaught of those entities and forces who are hell-bent upon setting this country on fire. The coming together of National Conference and Congress is not for power or out of the lure of the perks of power, but a sincere effort to stop the march of communalism and bigotry from entering Kashmir," Mir said in his address.
Karra, who recently joined the Congress, termed the upcoming polls as "Jihad against anti-Islam and anti-Kashmiri forces."
"This fight is against anti-Kashmir forces and the anti-Islam forces. This is a 'Jihad' and we have to fight together to defeat those forces," he said.
Today's was the first public speech of Karra after his resignation from Lok Sabha and PDP and it was for the first time that Karra, who defeated Abdullah during 2014 LS polls addressed a rally at NC headquarters here, along with other Congress leaders.
Karra said he had repeatedly warned PDP against joining hands with BJP and RSS. He said the PDP had option to form grand alliance by joining hands with Congress and National Conference to keep communal forces at bay.
"I had warned them that joining hands with the communal forces will cost them dearly," said Karra, adding that the PDP didn't pay heed to his repeated warnings saying that only BJP-led government at New Delhi could help J&K financially to overcome the devastation caused due to the floods of 2014.
"They (PDP) preferred the chair and not the peoples' concerns," said Karra, adding: "I had warned top PDP leadership that the decision to join hands with BJP would lead to decimation of the party."