Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday that he does not see his party winning 300 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2024, reported ANI. Azad indicated that the Congress will probably not be in a position to restore Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had given Jammu and Kashmir special status.
“I cannot promise that 300 Congress MPs will be elected in 2024 and I will do it [restore Jammu and Kashmir’s special status],” Azad said at a rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district. “I pray that Congress wins 300 seats but I do not see that happening now.”
The Congress leader added that he had been speaking about Article 370 in the Parliament over the last three years. “The matter is in court,” he said. “If something is not in our hands, I do not talk about it just to please people.”
Azad added that apart from the Supreme Court, the ruling government could decide on the matter.
On August 5, 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government had abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution.
While Article 370 gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35A empowered the erstwhile state’s legislature to define the “permanent residents” of the state and provide them with special rights and privileges.
The erstwhile state was also bifurcated into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have been demanding the restoration of the former state’s special status. On the first day of the Winter Session on Monday, National Conference MPs, including party president Farooq Abdullah, held a sit-in protest outside Parliament to press for their demand.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah said the Congress was not ready to fight for restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the Hindustan Times reported.
“Article 370 was the legacy of the Congress,” Abdullah had told the newspaper. “I got sad today after reading a news report wherein Azad sahib, who remained chief minister of J&K, said at a rally in Kashmir that talking about Article 370 is useless and that it won’t return.”
But Azad said that his statement had been misrepresented by some sections of the media.