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A change in the mood of the people, says Omar

By Shujaat Bukhari

BUDGAM, APRIL 6. The National Conference president, Omar Abdullah, today accused the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, of working at the behest of New Delhi to weaken Article 370 of the Constitution guaranteeing special status to the State.

Addressing a public meeting after filing his nomination papers from the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency, Mr. Abdullah said: "The Mufti is weakening Article 370 on the direction of New Delhi. But we have all along fought for maintaining the distinct identity of the State and will not allow such an attempt to succeed."

He said the 18-month-old coalition Government had made several promises to the people but had not fulfilled them. "They talked about disbanding the Special Operations Group but that is very much in action, they announced the setting up of an accountability commission but it is not coming up and many other promises have proved a hoax." The "so-called healing touch policy" had turned out to be a "hollow slogan" and was meant to mislead the people.

Earlier, Mr. Abdullah reached the Returning Officer's office in a convoy of over 150 vehicles with people chanting slogans and dancing. It was a different picture compared to the 2002 Assembly elections when the NC was at the receiving end. Braving threats from militants and a boycott call from separatists, hundreds of youths wearing the NC flag lined the route and forced Mr. Abdullah to stop at many places. Women sang folk songs in praise of him and his father, Farooq Abdullah.

Talking to The Hindu, a visibly elated Mr. Abdullah said: "There is a definite change in the mood of the people". They have realised the failure of the Mufti Government and have come back to "their own party." The NC would not be part of any Government at the Centre after elections. "We will represent our own people in Parliament," he added.

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