Omar Abdullah joins Rahul Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Yatra in Banihal

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Omar Abdullah joined Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra from Banihal in Ramban district as the foot march entered its Kashmir leg on Friday.

Abdullah joined Gandhi at the railway station and walked for about 2 km to the Truck Yard. The duo was joined by other senior leaders from the National Conference, including NC Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani and former NC minister Sakeena.

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said, “Our voices are not heard in Delhi. Rahul Gandhi, who himself belongs to a Kashmiri Pandit family, is here and we welcome him.”

Hitting out at the BJP, Abdullah said, “They are cowards. If elections were to be conducted here today, wouldn’t stand a chance.”

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said he does not want to delve into Congress’ stand on the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Bharat Jodo Yatra is not aimed at improving the image of Rahul Gandhi but for improving the situation in the country,” the National Conference (NC) leader told reporters upon his arrival in this highway town, 120 kilometres from Srinagar.

Abdullah said he joined the yatra as he was more concerned about the image of the country.”We have not joined this for the image of an individual but for the image of the country,” he said.

The NC leader further said Gandhi did not start the yatra for personal reasons but due to his concern over the attempts to create communal tensions and target minorities in the country.

“This government might be making friends with Arab countries but the fact remains that there is no representative in this government from the largest minority of the country,” he said.

“It might be for the first time since Independence that the ruling party does not have a single member of parliament — either in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha — from the Muslim community. It shows their attitude, ” he added.

Speaking on the Congress’s stand on the abrogation of Article 370, Abdullah said, “We will fight the case for the restoration of Article 370 in the court. The way the government is dragging its feet on the hearing of the petition tells us that our case is very strong.”

On the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said it has been eight years.

“The last assembly elections were held in 2014. This has been the longest period between the two elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It was not the case even at the peak of militancy,” he said.

Omar said the government wants the people of Jammu and Kashmir to beg for elections.

“We are not beggars and we won’t beg for it,” he said.

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