Srinagar: National Conference president and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said that he “regrets” that his party did not contest the 2018 Panchayat elections but asserted that it will participate in such polls “with enthusiasm” in future.
“We should have (participated) but will certainly do that in future and with lot of enthusiasm,” said Abdullah while speaking at the Parliamentary Outreach Programme for strengthening J&K’s Parliamentary Raj Institutions (PRIs) at SKICC here.
Abdullah said that during the NC government, the Panchayati Raj system in Jammu and Kashmir had been strengthened.
He said that a cabinet minister of his government was sent to Karnataka for studying the Panchayati Raj system, which had helped to set up a three-tier Panchayat system in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Panchayat elections were held during my stint despite militancy. Many of our ministers were killed during that time. You all have become members of this Panchayat and this is not an easy job.” Abdullah said. He asserted that the Panchayat members need to work hard.
“You are a part of the people and you have to face the crisis that we are facing today. Don’t live in a cuckoo world and think everything is hunky dory. We still face militancy and God knows what will happen in future,” Abdullah said.
While urging Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to provide security to Panchayat members , Abdullah said one of the important things needed to be ensured is the security of the Panchayat members.
“Politicians and those who stand with the nation face the crisis and are always targeted but it is important to provide security to Panchayat members. Yesterday, a senior leader of CPI was telling me how he was facing threat to life and it is important to safeguard him,” said Abdullah.
The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said “if we want to make them (panchayat members) successful, it was important to provide them all the facilities not just on paper but in practicality”.
“A lot has been written on papers but we need things to be done in letter and spirit. If we stand along with the nation, it is also the duty of the nation to safeguard us,” said Abdullah.
He urged the Panchayat members to “work with honesty and dignity”, adding that it was important for the people of the country to "stand united and work together for its progress and development".
“India is a diverse nation and unless you protect diversity, the nation will not progress. We have to be careful of the enemy within,” said Abdullah.
Later addressing mediapersons on the sidelines of the event, Abdullah on the prevailing situation in Afghanistan said: “There would be an impact of Taliban for sure but where it would be . . . would it have an impact on the US, Russia or China, we will get to know”.
When asked whether the NC will participate in the Assembly elections, as and when they are held, Abdullah replied: “We will win, let me tell you with certainty. If polls are held in a free and fair manner, the National Conference will emerge as the biggest party here”.
Abdullah expressed his anguish that government officials "don't answer phone calls".
He requested LG Manoj Sinha to instruct officials to answer phone calls of the people. "Soon a government will be formed in Jammu and Kashmir which will make government officials answerable to the people," Abdullah said.