Srinagar : Mustafa Kamal, the ousted chief spokesman of the National Conference, says his nephew and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his elder brother and party patron Farooq Abdullah are succumbing to pressure from ruling ally Congress.
“Something must have transpired at the highest level. Father and son crumbled under pressure from the Congress when I was ousted as the party chief spokesman,” Kamal told IANS.
He said Farooq Abdullah, a minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in Delhi, called him and asked why he had said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was a nobody.
“I tried to explain that I had not said so, but my brother said this was published everywhere and he had no option but to ask me to step down from the post of party spokesman,” Kamal claimed.
“Rahul Gandhi can speak on the role and functioning of the coalition team, but he has no role in running the state government,” Kamal re-asserted.
Kamal also stood by his assertion that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) must be revoked.
“Now (union Home Minister P.) Chidambaram is trying to cover up on behalf of the army, defence ministry and other quarters. There is no justification for sending the issue to the law ministry,” Kamal said.
He was referring to the law ministry seeking an opinion from the attorney general and saying that Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra was not bound by the advice of the state government on AFSPA.
“AFSPA has done its role and there are other laws in the state that can take care of the security situation,” Kamal said.
Kamal said he was to be sworn as a minister in the National Conference-Congress government led by Omar Abdullah which took oath in January 2009.
“I was in the scheme of things as a cabinet minister. Even my driver had been told to take a new official vehicle from the state motor garages that would be used by me as a minister.
“Last minute manipulations by the Congress and even some vested interests in the National Conference stepped in to scuttle the move,” Kamal said.
In hindsight though, Kamal feels he would have been highly uncomfortable sitting alongside some ministers in the government.
“One of them was an employee in the health department and the other is involved in a murderous attack on my brother Farooq Abdullah. The case is still alive in north Kashmir Baramulla district,” he said.
Kamal categorically denied any ambition to carve out a place within the National Conference for himself to challenge the power of the chief minister and his father.
“My existence is the National Conference. I belong to party founder, the late Sher-e-Kashmir, and we are all faithful soldiers of the party. The party suffered when my brother-in-law, the late G.M. Shah, parted ways with the National Conference in 1984. We cannot afford another split in the party,” he maintained.
Asked why he had been making statements that have been described by Omar Abdullah as “highly embarrassing”, Kamal said: “I am only articulating the feelings of the common man.
“In fact, I am getting a lot of feedback from within the party and the people. My ouster was completely uncalled for.”
Coming back to AFSPA, he said, “I firmly believe if AFSPA is not revoked as proposed by Omar Abdullah, Delhi would be the biggest loser. The alienation of people would grow further in the Valley where the Congress has no base of its own and the National Conference stands to lose by the adamant attitude of New Delhi.”
He has also accused the president of the state Congress, Saifuddin Soz, of trying to create problems for the coalition government.
“Ours is a coalition of compulsion and convenience with the Congress since the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Peoples Democratic Party are the bigger enemies. But if the National Conference leadership continues to succumb to the pressure tactics of the Congress, it is only the National Conference that stands to lose,” he said.