National Conference soon to release its poll manifesto


Jammu : Jammu and Kashmir’s main opposition National Conference is to release its election manifesto soon though the state assembly polls are slated only for October.

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“The National Conference will soon issue its election manifesto,” party president Omar Abdullah told a public meeting Thursday and also listed his party’s priorities.

“The top priorities of the party will be to fight poverty, favour agriculture, employment opportunities for the youth, help small and medium industries, decentralise, and aim to ensure the benefits of progress reach the maximum number of people,” he told a public meeting in Bani, a hilly town about 100 km north-west of Jammu.

The National Conference wants to be the first with its manifesto because it is apprehensive that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may try to “steal some of its issues”.

“We have already seen how the PDP incorporated all the major components of the NC’s autonomy document in its proposed self-rule – reversal of the central laws, greater devolution of power and elected governor, etc.,” a party leader told IANS.

Abdullah charged the ruling coalition partner PDP with doing a “cut and paste job” in the self-rule proposal.

The National Conference will also focus on restoration of greater autonomy – the issue on which it had contested the 1996 polls and which yielded the party a two-thirds majority.

But the party ended up with passing a report in July 2000 that was rejected by the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi, in which Abdullah was a minister.

“The party will fight for the identity of the people of the state and also for their urges and aspirations which are neglected during the PDP-Congress coalition rule,” Abdullah said.

He alleged the coalition government had “mortgaged Kashmir’s special status by not passing the Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill”. He was referring to the failure of the government to challenge a verdict of the high court that allowed the state’s girls to marry outside the state, losing their citizenship.

His party would also raise the issue of the state government’s repeated pleas to outsiders to take land on lease and invest in the state, Abdullah said.