National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar in an exclusive interview to The Kashmir Magazine elaborated in detail the reasons for NC’s defeat in Parliament polls and strategy the party is adopting to face the tough times ahead.
Excerpts from the Interview
Q: What about the preparations of National Conference vis-à-vis the upcoming assembly elections?
A: NC is very much prepared for the battle and we have kept our cadre ready to accept the challenge. The most important thing for the National Conference is to remain connected to its cadre as the party cadre is the only strength and courage for NC. We are holding the meeting at Mohala, Block levels and are listening to the suggestions being put forth by the party activists and workers.
Q: NC lost all the seats of valley during the recently held Lok Sabha polls. What were the reasons for this terrible rout?
A: There are several reasons for our defeat and not just the one. I can say that several reasons caused our defeat. I can only say that the party network needs to be strengthened at grass root levels. Earlier there used to be the strong bond between the party and its workers. That connection was somehow lost due to which we suffered. Now we are striving to address that issue and we are working on it.
Q: Don’t you think that cross voting was another major reason for NC’s defeat during parliamentary elections?
A: Yes, that really surprised us all. We were hoping that Congress votes would get transferred in our favor but that didn’t happen, neither in South Kashmir and nor in North Kashmir. But we can say that other factors also acted as the spoilsport. There were issues with the electricity and people were disgruntled with the dues. There were the reports of the scarcity of ration and some internal issues within the National Conference. Also during the parliament poll campaign, we made it Modi vs Rahul issue rather than projecting our own achievements and now we know what the outcome was.
Q: How much was the party affected due to the presence of Dr Farooq Abdullah at New Delhi during the past five years?
A: Yes, he is a teacher and a guide for the party leaders and workers. He kept on guiding us on various subtle issues. Now due to his health conditions he could not spend much time with the party affairs. But now Omar Sahib is boosting the morale of the party and his hard work is yielding results.
Q: How do you view your fight against the PDP that has swept all the three seats of valley during parliament polls held recently?
A: Against PDP we don’t have any fight. I mean you cannot compare a movement with few people who are the creation of agencies to foil NC’s pro-Kashmir agenda. Agencies choose Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as he has served as the Indian Home Minister and the agencies believe him as pro-Indian. He was given the task to damage the NC agenda and after we passed the autonomy resolution in assembly, PDP was brought into limelight. NC is the party of people and we have been struggling for Kashmir since 1931.
Q: It is being accused at present that NC lost its ideology and undermined the principles for which party’s foundation was laid by Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah?
A: No, not at all. We are treading the path of Sher-e-Kashmir. Situations change and we had to change with the time. There are various forces that are hell-bent upon damaging the party but despite the repeated attempts they could not shake a single stone of this strong building.
Q: NC advocates for Autonomy as the solution for Kashmir issue but is ready to accept any solution better than autonomy. If it is plebiscite or Rai Shumari, will you accept?
A: Yes¸ we will accept Rai Shumari as the solution of Kashmir. Why not? How can we reject it? If people of Kashmir demand and accept this as the solution for the long pending Kashmir issue, we have no objection in accepting it as the Peoples’ verdict.