PULWAMA: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was harping on the Pulwama terror attack and subsequent air strikes in Pakistan's Balakot to hide his failures on economic front, job creation and alleviating agrarian distress.
The former chief minister said while Kashmir was no more an election issue in Pakistan, it was Prime Minister Modi who focussed his election campaign on the situation in the valley.
"There was a time when Jammu and Kashmir used to dominate elections in Pakistan but now it is PM Modi who is going to town with J&K in the election campaign.
"The prime minister is raking up Balakot and Pulwama terror attack to hide his government's failures on economic front, employment generation and the agrarian distress in the country," Abdullah told reporters after addressing an election rally in this militancy-infested town in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.
Pulwama and Shopian districts are going to polls on May 6 in the third leg of polling in the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency where the National Conference has fielded former high court judge Hasnain Masoodi.
Addressing the rally, Abdullah said the election in Anantnag seat was "unique" as the polling in one constituency was being held in three phases.
"First time I have seen that some of the leaders decided to quit campaigning (in Pulwama and Shopian districts) four days before the close of official campaign period," he said in an apparent reference to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting the polls from Anantnag.
Nearly 200 metres away from the venue of the National Conference rally, the BJP had organised a rally at Pulwama Townhall.
The National Conference leader reiterated that the present election was about safeguarding the special status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Constitution of India as guaranteed by Articles 370 and 35-A.
"We have fielded Hasnain Masoodi because his judgement on Article 370 still holds legal sanctity and he will be able to put forth our viewpoint in Parliament better. This is not an easy battle (to protect special status).
"We will fight this in the (Supreme) court and in Parliament as well. And only a legal luminary like Masoodi can do it in Parliament," he said.
Abdullah asserted that his National Conference was not power hungry and had offered unconditional support to the PDP after the fractured mandate in the 2014 Assembly elections for government formation in order to keep the BJP away.
"When late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed entered into talks with BJP, we offered him unconditional support but he joined hands with the BJP, which was followed by daily crackdowns and encounters.
"During our (NC-Congress) government, partial revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was under consideration. But today the situation has turned so bad that one cannot even think of these things," he said.
The National Conference vice president appealed to the people of Pulwama to come out to vote.
"NC will scrap the Public Safety Act and review cases against the youth accused of pelting stones (during law and order situations)."
Abdullah highlighted that some leaders from other parties were using police to pick up youths and later get them released on the assurance of votes from their families.
Masoodi, while addressing the rally, said Article 35-A guarantees that the land and government jobs of Jammu and Kashmir belong only to people of the state.
Senior National Conference leader Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzan appealed to his party workers to carry out door-to-door campaign for ensuring Masoodi's victory.
The twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian are spread over six Assembly segments -- Tral, Pampore, Pulwama, Rajpora, Wachi and Shopian.
As many as 695 polling stations have been established across the districts for smooth conduct of elections.
These south Kashmir districts have 5,22,530 electors -- 2,71,127 males, 2,50,735 females, 657 service electors and 11 transgender voters.
The polling in the constituency is being held in three phases in view of law and order situation.
On February 14, a Jaish-e-Mohammed suicide attacker struck a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, killing 40 jawans.
In response, India carried out air strikes on terrorists camps in Balakot in Pakistan.