Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday said he was not interested in becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, dispelling "rumours" in this regard.
The former Congress leader said he was not looking for employment but wanted to serve the people of J-K.
“I will request people not to trust the rumour mills which are working in overdrive…. There is a fresh rumour here that Ghulam Nabi Azad is going to be the next LG.
"I have not come (to JK) looking for a job, I want to serve the people,” Azad said addressing a rally to mark the foundation day of his Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) which he formed last year after parting ways with the Congress.
Azad said some people were trying to give the impression that he was looking for rehabilitation.
“When I came here in 2005 (as chief minister), I left two prized (Union) ministries – Housing and Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs – to serve the people. It was not as if I was without work,” he said referring to criticism by some quarters that he returned to JK politics at the behest of the BJP.
Azad said unemployment and inflation were two main problems facing Jammu and Kashmir which he wants to address by exploiting the tourism potential of the region.
“Inflation is on the rise. It is true that inflation is not specific to India. Europe has the highest inflation but they have other means to tackle it. We are a poor state.
"Unemployment is on the rise. There are no jobs. Government is advertising posts but interviews are not held. Educated youth have no jobs and their parents have exhausted their savings on their education,” he said.
The former chief minister said tourism has the potential to provide a livelihood for all sections of the society.
“One Tulip Garden (which was made in 2007) has provided livelihood to thousands of people. As CM, I had a plan to develop 10 to 12 tourist locations in each district of Jammu and Kashmir.
"I had plans of providing loans to people for setting up homestay facilities which could provide earning opportunities to them,” he added.
Referring to the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A by the Centre in 2019, Azad said it was a "great mistake".
“There were some political mistakes over many years which have pushed the state backwards, instead of going forward. In the last nine years, another great mistake was made - Article 370 and Article 35A were removed.
“Article 35A, subsequently Article 35B, was not promulgated after Independence. It was brought by the Maharaja (Hari Singh) in 1925. I said this in Parliament that had the BJP known that they would not have touched Article 370 and Article 35A. This mistake pushed us further back. There was an uncertainty whether the land will stay with us or not,” he added.
Azad asked party leaders not to make personal attacks against opponents.
"I have said earlier also that we were subjected to a political fraud but why should I comment on someone's appearance?” he said.
He demanded the death penalty for those involved in running drug mafia in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Drug abuse has become a major problem. Many people have become millionaires by dealing in drugs. They should be hanged to death,” he said.