Sajjad Lone Says PDP-NC-Congress Alliance Aimed At Keeping Him Out Of Power

A file photo of Sajjad Lone.

SRINAGAR — Hitting out at the PDP, the Congress and the National Conference (NC), People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone Friday said their efforts to form a grand alliance were aimed at keeping a “third front” led by his party out of power.

The PDP and the NC consider Jammu and Kashmir their fiefdom and would never allow any other group to emerge, Lone told reporters with PDP ‘defector’ Imran Ansari by his side.

“I have been questioned for tying up with the BJP. It’s not a crime. The process of joining the BJP bandwagon started with Omar Abdullah, who was a poster boy for the Vajpayee government.

“What about Mehboobaji, she was in power for the last three years with the help of the BJP only,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir assembly was abruptly dissolved by the Governor Wednesday night, hours after the PDP staked claim to form a government with the backing of rival NC and Congress. This was followed by another bid from the two-member People’s Conference which claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.

Lone, who had sent his letter staking claim through a WhatsApp message from midair, challenged the PDP chief to prove her majority on the floor of the house.

“Has anyone read her letter. I challenge her to take that letter to any lawyer and get relief from court. I am sure she will get relief. And (then) I will prove my majority if given a chance,” he said.

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Lone said his party has accepted the Governor’s decision and was ready for fresh elections in the state.

“I have not lost my mind. If I staked the claim, (it means) we had the numbers. Imran (Ansari) has come and this is just the beginning. There is long line (of leaders) who will be coming from everywhere (other parties),” he said.

The People’s Conference chief dismissed the allegations that he was trying to break the political parties to become the chief minister.

“There was a viewpoint that I was breaking the parties. There is a huge difference between breaking a party and working (doing) what is permissible within (according to) the Constitution. I have not written the Constitution or enacted the anti-defection law. It was made before we came,” Lone said.

“If the MLAs feel that they are being sold out without being consulted, an opportunistic alliance is being made with those who they fought on the ground and they approach me, I cannot shut my doors on them. If some windfall comes, why should I say ‘no’,” he said.

He added that if the leaders of other parties fail to inspire their MLAs, others should not be blamed for it.

Lone, who lost his cool several times during the press conference, also rebuffed the allegations of using money for government formation and said they were baseless.

“They (PDP and NC) have ruled the state for 50 years. They have the money. Where will we get the money from?” he asked.

In response to another question, Lone said corruption has seeped into the pysche of people in the state and has now gained social acceptance.

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“When we go, as a society, for a match (for marriage), people enquire where is he (suitor) posted. Is he posted at a good place (indicating whether he was making good money). Till we don’t stop that, corruption cannot be ended,” he said.

Lone said none of the professions was corruption-free.

“We live in South Asia where corruption is a part of life in every profession including politics, journalism, legal fraternity, doctors and engineers. Like money is made in one (profession), it is done in others too,” he said.

Lone, however, said if he comes to power, those politicians involved in corruption will be investigated.

“If there is anyone who needs to be jailed, he will be jailed. They have fended for each other. I have seen it from inside,” he said.

Lone said he had witnessed wrongdoers being allowed to get away.