SRINAGAR: In a major setback for National Conference (NC), two of its senior leaders — Devender Singh Rana and former minister Surjit Singh Salathia — who were party faces in the Jammu region, resigned from the party on Sunday. They set off speculations about the possibility of them joining the BJP.
Both Rana, a three-time former legislator and brother of Dr Jitendra Singh, Union MoS in PMO, and Salathia, former minister, tendered their resignations to NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah.
“Dr Abdullah has accepted the resignations of Salathia and Rana. No further action or comment is deemed necessary,” stated an NC spokesman. Rana, who was the NC’s provincial president of Jammu region, confirmed to media about him and Salathia quitting the NC. Rana, who was a political advisor of Omar Abdullah during his tenure as J&K chief minister, had last week added to speculation about his quitting the NC by telling media that “as of now I am in NC but can’t predict the future.”
He, however, had dropped enough hints of quitting the NC by saying that he was ready to make any sacrifices for the interests of Jammu. Rana had in January this year proposed ‘Jammu declaration’ to forge unity among Jammu parties for the larger interests of the people of Jammu.
After quitting the NC, Rana vowed to pursue ‘Jammu Declaration.’ He described it as a key to retrieving back the glorious ethos of inclusive Jammu and Kashmir to its pristine glory again. He said that the Jammu Declaration would eventually lead to offsetting the fault-lines created between the regions, various segments of the society, as also with the rest of the country.
There is speculation that Rana and Slathia may join the BJP on Monday in New Delhi and start with the agenda of “statehood” for the Jammu region. Earlier, there was speculation that Rana might launch a new political party in Jammu as he was already in touch with some Jammu-based leaders.
wind of change?
After Article 370 revocation, the NC had so far mostly remained untouched of desertions and defections. Only one leader, Basharat Bukhari, had quit so far and joined the People’s Conference