Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was Wednesday cautious in his reaction to the high voter turnout in the first phase of Assembly elections in the state.
“The only rider I would like to attach is that this is not a single phased election, there are still four more phases to go out of which three more phases have to be fought in the Valley and, therefore, before we rush to pass judgement over ballot over bullet, defeat of separatists, I think we should wait for these three phases to pass,” he said
Talking to media persons after filing the second set of nomination papers from Sonawar Assembly seat, which goes to polls in the fourth phase on December 14, Omar expressed hope that other phases will also pass off peacefully.
“Then we can pass whatever judgements we want. I believe yesterday was a victory of democracy, it wasn’t anybody’s defeat and no matter where the votes went, because we will know who voted where on December 23. I am extremely grateful to every single person who braved the cold and everything else to come out and vote and I hope others in the subsequent phases follow this as well,” he said.
In the first phase of election in which 15 Assembly seats went to polls yesterday, the state recorded more than 70 per cent of votes.
To a question whether high turnout was in favour of his party, Omar said NC was the only party which was cadre-based.
“You won’t find a single village in all the three regions of the state where there is no NC cadre. If any party has bore the brunt of militancy, it has been NC. And when the fear of gun is less, it’s expected that NC workers will come out and that is what may have happened yesterday,” he said.
Omar also said the element of “suspicion and hostility” between India and Pakistan should be removed and both the countries should sit across the dialogue table and resolve their differences.
Omar’s remarks came at a time when leaders of SAARC nations including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are in Kathmandu for the regional summit.
Omar also appreciated the Prime Minister’s outreach to neighbouring countries.
Asked about the possibility of talks between India and Pakistan during the ongoing SAARC Summit, Omar favoured a dialogue and said, “I don’t think there is anybody in the right mind who would not want dialogue.
“At the end of the day, we tried all other alternatives to resolve our differences with Pakistan. We fought wars, we suspended dialogue but the closest we have come to resolving our differences is when India and Pakistan have been talking to each other, either during (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee saheb’s time or during Dr Manmohan Singh’s time.
“And, therefore, we do hope that this sort of element of suspicion and hostility, that has crept into our relation, can gradually be done with and if the SAARC Summit provides that opportunity, then nothing like that,” Omar said.