Kolkata: Amidst reports of a meeting between PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night that raised speculation over new political realignment in Jammu and Kashmir, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said chief minister Omar Abdullah “needs time and support”.
Addressing a press conference here, he also ruled out his intervention in affairs of Jammu and Kashmir and refused to comment on demands for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state.
“The government has supported Omar Abdullah. National Conference is the party in power. He is a youngster. Kashmir is a difficult place. Omar is doing a tough job and he should be given time and support,” Gandhi told a press conference when asked whether Omar had failed.
Replying to questions on Kashmir and Omar Abdullah, he said the Congress was supporting him and he is the leader of the NC.
“It is their decision to run Kashmir. They are in a partnership,” he said.
“I think we have to give him support. Kashmir is a sensitive job. We have to give him time and support,” Gandhi said.
He corrected a questioner to say that he did not say that the Kashmir situation was critical.
In the midst of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, Mufti had a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night which led to speculation that the two parties could revive their alliance to form a government in Kashmir.
To a question on AFSPA, Gandhi said he would “defer to the Prime Minister on the subject. I would say the Prime Minister has knowledge on the subject. I would lower my head. The Prime Minister has more knowledge on the subject”.
He said, “It is a complex issue and he would not like to say whether he wanted it or did not want. It would be unfair on my part to do so irresponsible”.
“It is for senior people like the Prime Minister to comment on that. For me to say I am for or against would be unfair or irresponsible,” Gandhi told a questioner.
When asked to comment on PDP president Mehbooba Mufti requesting his intervention in the Kashmir problem, Gandhi said, “Kashmir is not a part time problem, it is a full time problem.”
He also had a tongue in cheek that he was being offered new jobs
“If I were to get into it, I would have to give full time to it. There are many other leaders who want to give me a job. The way I have been brought up is to carry out my responsibility. I am doing a job now. It is a full time responsibility (as a leader of the Youth Congress). I have to finish it.
“Somebody wants me to take up Commonwealth Games organising job. They are others who can do it. I don’t want to look to move from one problem to another. They are others who can handle Kashmir.
“I will go to Jammu and Kashmir as my drive is to go to every party of India to bring the youth into the political system. It’s a full time responsibility to bring youngsters in politics,” Gandhi said.