Sri Krishen Kaw
JAMMU: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has played an important role to be instrumental in abrogation of Article 370 as it has been in its election manifesto right from the beginning. This was explained by former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah during an exclusive interview in recent past with Editor in Chief of News Insider 24×7, Masood Malik at Srinagar. The excerpts of the conversation are as under:
Masood Malik: What changes do you see after the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K as BJP has been very enthusiastic over its master stroke to make an end to dynastic rule of Abdullah’s ,Muftis’, and Gandhi’s?
Omar Abdullah: First of all you tell me is this a very important question to be asked? Does people of Jammu and Kashmir have no other problems which include poverty, inflation,sky rocketing prices of essentials,unemployment and so on. There are no signs of good governance on ground, gap between people and administration widens each passing day but questions are asked about ‘dynasty rule politics’, Omar maintained. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have no interest in such questions, If it had been so,t hey would have rejected us very earlier and we would not have been here to fight elections. Because we have not been thrusted by New Delhi here. Those who move in big cavalcades here have not won any elections but they are here because Delhi wants them to be here and they have to go from here only when Delhi wants them to do so, he further added.
Masood Malik: BJP has been beating drums for revoking Article 370 at every for a in the country, what intentions they have behind their deeds, can you throw some light on it as you have inherited politics from your family?
Omar Abdullah: I have been in politics for the last over 22 years. During this period I have fought many elections some of them I won and some lost, too. People of Jammu and Kashmir recognize me well, they know what, where and who I am, so I do not think it is necessary to reply this question or give a clarification after 22 years that what I inherited from my family and what not should not be anybody’s matter of concern. So far as revocation of Article 370 is concerned, BJP is no authority to revoke it though the abrogation of Article 370 was in the manifesto of BJP right from the beginning. Since the matter is sub judice under the consideration of Supreme Court of India so Supreme Court is the competent authority to make any decisions on this issue, Omar said.
Masood Malik: Several Kashmir based political parties have come into being for the last quite some time ,do you think these parties pose any threat to National Conference in elections?
Omar Abdullah: These parties did not posed any threat to us as there were no polls at all except DDC and BDC polls during that time Secondly at the time of polls these parties were nowhere in the sight. If they got any sort of success after elections that was only due to blessings of Raj Bhawan. We had good results in these elections of our own yet these parties if any benefit they got that was showered over them by the Raj Bhawan only where they were subjected to horse trading and destroying the mandate of people by using unfair means, Omar said, adding otherwise there was not any single reason to announce the chairmen of our parties so lately. But still we had no loss of anything due to these parties and let Assembly elections take place once then we will see which way the wind blows, he added.
Masood Malik: There has been a video which has made rounds on social media and you have been saying that we are for Kashmir only and not for Jammu, how do you justify it?
Omar Abdullah: No need to justify it he said, because it is a fact that the bastion of our party is Kashmir and hilly areas of Jammu though we get a little bit in the form of bonus from Jammu plains too, but it does not mean that we have stopped to represent Jammu region, Omar replied, adding of course our maximum seats come from Kashmir but we are vocal for Jammu equally as our party represents both Jammu as well as Kashmir regions and highlight issues of Jammu region at all for as besides take part equally in the development works for people of Jammu and Kashmir same may have noticed during my tenure as chief minister for six years and this process will continue in future also ,he added. Recently we filed a case in Supreme Court of India that was not for people of Kashmir only but for Jammu people too. We never discriminate with people of any region but there are some facts which needed to be admitted. Our party get maximum strength from Kashmir but we do not discriminate with Jammu in spite fight election from Jammu too. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference represents entire J&K and whatever we get from Jammu we welcome it, Omar added.
Masood Malik: National Conference received a jolt recently after senior member made an exit from Jammu, how do you see it?
Omar Abdullah: Yes, of course it makes a difference definitely when one of your companion deserts your party. But it is not so for the first time in the history .Such a things remained happening as a regular feature right from the times of Sher E Kashmir to Farooq Sahab and so on. Our party National Conference is a cadre based party if someone intends to leave the party it definitely makes a difference for a little time but later on party strengthens further, Omar maintained. So, our party is not after any leader but only cadre because if someone deceives you and leaves, our cadre remains there like a milestone to save it from any loss, he further added.
Masood Malik: Speculations were rife that you were in constant touch with New Delhi and were aware about the developments which were going on in terms of abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019,besides your meeting with PM ?
Omar Abdullah: This is a fact that an atmosphere of confusion and chaos was prevailing at that time. Nobody either pointed out or briefed about that exactly what was going on. We too like others were trying to think over while sitting in our rooms the peculiar situation which arised at that point of time, Omar replied, adding but we had no idea neither anybody told us that such a development is going to take place. So far as my meeting with PM was concerned that is a regular feature for me that I remain meeting with PM every now and then but I was not aware about it instead I conveyed him that there should not be any such activity which probably may bring Jammu and Kashmir into limelight for wrong reasons.
Masood Malik: Former RAW chief A.S. Dulat revealed in an interview that BJP wants to hold elections in J&K and eyes on NC to be its alliance partner to form Govt there because NC has stronghold in Kashmir and BJP in Jammu?
Omar Abdullah: What is in BJP’s mind how do I know said Omar, adding why should we make an alliance with BJP. We do not need to do so. This is advisable to those who dance to the tunes of Modi Government but we are not here to fight elections for alliance neither we need anybody’s support in spite we wish that people of Jammu and Kashmir vote us in elections so that we can form government of our own with thumping majority, he added. On reply to a supplementary question he said that National Conference is enough confident that it will secure full number and do not need to get support from any corner to form the government of its own.
Masood Malik: Apni party has levelled allegations that National Conference as a whole was responsible for the disaster and destruction that witnessed J&K and its people?
Omar Abdullah: Had been the case so, Apni Party would not had approached us in 2018-19 elections for support when then Governor Satya Pal Malik’s fax machine developed snag that time who wanted to become the chief minister of J&K? If it is accepted that National Conference is held responsible for every evils in Jammu and Kashmir then why did they knocked at our doors for support, why their principles vanished in the air? questioned Omar. In reply to another question that Congress and NC did not supported PDP when late Mufti Sayeed joined hands with BJP and said that it was essential to alliance with BJP otherwise 1947’ like situation would arise, Omar explained that in 1947’ people got killed while in 2018 it did not happened so, rest is not to be discussed as I am talking on the side-lines of the circumstances only. Though I cannot run away for a long from controversies unfortunately, he further added.
Masood Malik: LG has challenged that unless and until J&K does not become an integral part of India I will not move back to UP, what do you think on this line?
Omar Abdullah: This is very sad, Omar said, does it mean that J&K is not an integral part of India, according to BJP August 5, 2019 happened for the same purpose to make J&K fully integral part of the country but how sad that since then i.e. for the last four years LG is unsure about it. So, it is an utmost failure on the part of LG, Central Govt and BJP to make explain to the people of country that where lies the weakness and does we lack? LG must come with a clear cut reason to masses as why he do not think Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of the country despite happening of August 5,2019,asks Omar.
Masood Malik: BJP brought many laws to fore after Aug 5,though people were up in arms to roll back them including 5 marla plot to poor which was opposed by you as well and stressed on domiciles of J&K, did they do so just to increase their vote bank?
Omar Abdullah: They tried hard to strengthen their vote bank but failed. I do not think that they did it because they wanted to increase their vote bank, Omar said ,adding if they intended to increase their vote bank they would not have been in a state to skip elections in Jammu and Kashmir time and time again. I, think their vote bank is not enough strong otherwise they would have had hold elections by now as such case was not so, that is why they seemed to skip elections every time. But let Supreme Court of India once give its decision, after that we will see which of the laws they made will remain in use and which one not ,Omar further added.
Masood Malik: ’They will not get their addresses here let us come in power once were your utterances for them ,did you said this in a fit of anger?
Omar Abdullah: This is a fact and there is nothing new in it said Omar, because they are outsiders holding big positions here. As long as they have been on these positions people do recognize them but once they are shifted from here the people of Jammu and Kashmir will not recognize them. The moment they go from here people of Jammu and Kashmir no more will remember them. I cannot increase or decrease the memory power of people but it is a fact that nobody will remember them since they were outsiders and outsiders have no permanent addresses anywhere, so this is an admitted fact and was not said in a fit of anger or some thing like that, added Omar.
Denying that he had ever said that he will fight elections only after restoration of Art 370 earlier, Omar said that I told that I was not ready for elections at that point of time but I was misquoted. Speaking on side-lines of PSA was justified he said that no law in itself is illegal ,it may have been at that time need of the hour but now it should be removed. I have been advocating for its removal since a long because as on now its need to be in use is not felt ,Omar opined.
Masood Malik: What do you think about I.N.D.I.A alliance? Will BJP change name of the country now? What is your opinion about calling upon special sessions of Parliament by PM?
Omar Abdullah: Nobody knows about what is there in the mind of the Prime Minister of India in the country! So how can be I able to give you a reply instead you yourself get some time any day and fix a meeting with him and ask him, Omar suggested adding but I presume that there will be nothing special in calling special sessions of Parliament.It may either be praises by the Government,NDA and BJP on success of G-20 or Chandrayaan III and nothing more,because they are not going to hold any discussions on change of country’s name,UGC or Reservation bill etc which pertain to people of the nation.So far as change of country’s name from India to Bharat is concerned I do not think that there is any difference between the two,as India Bharat is one and the same thing,Omar added.To remain in power empowers the ruler that the names of the things can be kept by your own whims and wishes just like naming the point Shiv Shakti where Chandrayaan III landed besides you can change the names as seen in Gujarat Omar pointed out.
Turning tables towards the Congress when he was asked about his support to Vajpayee Government, Omar asked tell me a single thing that was against the wishes of people of Jammu and Kashmir at that point of time. I supported Vajpayee Government at that time only because his support was needed to people in J&K. No political leader of this country has a clean chit but every party has its compulsions. If in Assam hundreds of people got killed for that only BJP was not responsible that was a system failure of that state and that act was condemnable.