Excerpts of the interview with the state Congress chief Saif-ud-din Soz by M.Aslam
Q: How much is the state Congress prepared for the assembly elections?
We are prepared. We always were prepared. The Congress is the party that upholds the democratic principles and its utmost priority has always been to strengthen the democratic in- stitutions. We always have strived for the peoples’ government. On ground also, people want the elected govern- ment to resolve their issues and Con- gress will remain in the fore front al- ways to mitigate peoples’ sufferings.
Q: Reports on ground suggest that the promises the Congress made to the people in 2008 weren’t fulfilled. How would you respond?
There is no doubt in the fact that the coalition government didn’t deliver what was expected from it. Congress strived and struggled every day for the timely resolution of the peoples’ issues. People of the state know that Congress raised concern while being in the government over strengthen- ing of the Panchayat institutions in the state, the incorporation of the 73rd amendment in the Panchayat Raj act. We raised voice for the border areas of the state and wanted the people living along the border areas be provided the viable shelters. We raised the issue of refugees and OBCs. People of the state know better that the Congress never compromised over the promises it made to them during 2008 elections.
Q: Then you mean to say that National Confer ence acted as the hurdle in your way to fulfill your obligations vis-à-vis people?
Indeed it is true. Coalition was a compulsion.
Q: But the chief minister Omar Abdullah said Congress didn’t allow him to settle?
Congress has a documental proofing national conference. about everything. NC always played the delay tactics which led to the col- lapse of the whole system. NC minister always passed the buck to each other. Whenever we raised any issue in the coordination committee meet, NC ministers used to have the excuse that they must ask Omar whether to take that decision or not. But yes, thank God that people of Jammu and Kashmir are well aware that Congress always stood by them. It strived for the rights of the people and they understand us
Q: As a state Congress chief, how do you see the I can only tell you that no govern- post poll scenario?
Congress is the strong party in the state. It has strong foothold on all the regions of the Jammu and Kashmir. I am saying this with certainty that Congress will be the single largest party in the state after elections
Q: And where do you see NC?
As far as our reports are concerned, people are disgruntled with the na- tional conference. Also I cannot presume things. People are mature and all the parties will have to face the people of Jammu and Kashmir including national conference.
Q: But NC claims to have taken the remarkable measures including the creation of new administrative units, enhancement of retirement age and other issues?
How that would have been possible without Congress. Until and unless we supported the national conference, the measures would never have been taken. Congress strived for such issues and people know it.
Q: What role you predict of Congress after the elections?
I can only tell you that no government can be formed in the state with- out the support of Congress. Our sup- port has become inevitable for the formation of the government in Jam- mu and Kashmir.
Q: Are you in contact with the PDP leadership as the reports suggest that meetings between PDP and Congress have been held in the past?
I have no contact with the PDP leadership. We are all concentrating on the elections and what Congress wants is its own majority in the state. The issue of whether to forge any alliance with any party or not would be decided later.