Srinagar, April 1: Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said he will work to restore the titles ‘Wazir-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister) and ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ (head of state) in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering an angry reaction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Reacting to Modi’s criticism, the National Conference leader said this had always been the stand of his party and there was nothing new about the issue.
After Modi criticized him for “seeking a separate Prime Minister and President for J&K”, Abdullah tweeted: “Most grateful to PM Modi Sahib for taking my humble speech and giving it a nation platform.
“JKNC has always stood for the original terms of accession and will continue to fight for those. For the record, we don’t need other parties to endorse our position.
“My party has always stood for the restoration of the terms of accession which Maharaja Hari Singh negotiated for J&K in 1947 and we have done so unashamedly,” he added.
Abdullah had an advice for the opposition.
“Dear friends in the Congress and other opposition parties. Please don’t hesitate to distance yourselves from my speech of today. In fact call Modiji’s bluff by doing exactly that,” he said.
Abdullah said earlier that the National Conference will bring back the nomenclature ‘Wazir-e-Azam’ and ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ in the state — to refer to the present-day Chief Minister and Governor.
Addressing a party gathering in Bandipora district, he said: “Jammu and Kashmir is not like other states of India. We didn’t come for free. We made conditions and ensured that our separate identity is preserved.
“We got guarantees incorporated into the Constitution. We ensured that we have a flag and a Constitution of our own.
“Does any other state of India have its own flag and Constitution? We extended our hand of friendship on certain conditions which were agreed to.
“We have got it included in the Constitution that we have our own ‘Wazir-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister) and ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ (head of state). These were later removed by them. God willing, we will get these nomenclatures back.
“After 70 years, you (Centre) are telling us we will withdraw Article 370 and Article 35A. If you speak of removing these articles, then you will have to revisit the entire issue of state’s accession to India.”
Abdullah’s statement came in response to remarks by BJP President Amit Shah who said that removing Article 35A was on the BJP’s agenda and that it would be scrapped in 2020.