Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Ruhullah Mehdi has resigned from his post as Chief Spokesperson of his party on Tuesday.
In a tweet, Ruhullah said “I have sent across my resignation from the post of Chief Spokesperson of @JKNC_. From here on none of my statements should be considered as such.”
Ruhullah, who is still under house arrest, had earlier told The New Indian Express that “The restoration of statehood should be the least of the demands. It should be the last demand. Our main demand should be restoration of special status.”
“The politicians should talk and fight for restoration of rights snatched from J&K people on August 5. Even if we are jailed or put in prisons for talking about it, we should not be worried and afraid. Instead we should be ready for it,” he further said in his interview.
The spokesman was apparently reacting to Party Vice-president Omar Abdullah’s yesterday’s article in Indian Express where he had spelled out that his party would fight the abrogation of Article 370 in court and announced that he would not contest Assembly elections till statehood of Jammu & Kashmir is restored.
Soon after Ruhullah announced his resignation and Twitterati started debating the development, Omar Abdullah was quick to react through a series of tweets.
“I have no problem being disagreed with for what I say or do but when you invent things & put words in my mouth to attack me then that’s more about you than about me. All you lazy journalists & commentators please show me where I’ve demanded statehood be restored,” he said.
In a bid to clarify his stance further, he said: “I’ve simply said that having been CM of the STATE of J&K I will not fight an assembly election to the assembly of the UT of J&K. That’s it. No more no less! That’s a far cry from saying I’m demanding statehood be restored.”
“Haters will hate & nothing will change that. There are a few people from whom I expected better but disappointment is part of politics & one has learnt to live with it. Life goes on,” he added.
Reacting further, Omar, quoting The Kashmir Walla Editor-in-chief Fahad Shah’s tweet, asked him to show where in his piece or in the interview he has demanded statehood.
The journalist had before reacted to Ruhullah’s resignation tweet saying: “Here it begins, chief spokesperson of JKNC resigns from his post as Omar Abdullah demands statehood.”
Fahad, however, was quick to respond with screenshots from Omar’s article where he clearly asks and hopes for the statehood to be restored.
“When are you holding a press conference? And you’re calling journalists lazy! These screenshots from your interview will refresh memory. So much you forget, Omar sb!”, Fahad added.
The response pushed Omar to backfoot, toning down his anger in his next response.
“Not forgotten. The impression is being created that only statehood is required & all other aspects of 5th Aug have been washed away. That’s lazy & misleading. I’m have never placed statehood restoration above the fight for J&K’s special status yet the 370 comments get wiped out,” he responded.
On being asked further whether he’ll fight elections if and after statehood is restored and no change is made to 5 August decision, Omar distanced his party from the stand he has showed in his Indian Express article saying that he was speaking for himself and not his party.
“I may not, but the party will chart its own course when all the leaders are set free and given a chance to talk. I’ve made it clear that these are ONLY my thoughts, I am not speaking for the party. The party and its leaders will formulate our policy, not me as an individual,” said his tweet.
Earlier, senior journalist Gowhar Geelani also questioned Omar’s ambiguity and his tweet in which he called journalists ‘lazy’.
“Disagreements are part of public life. If you can say that you won’t participate in elections “if J&K remains a UT”, you could have been unambiguous by saying that you and your party won’t contest elections unless the August 5 decision is reversed; clock turned backwards to 1953,” Gowhar tweeted.