Press Trust of India

Support strong regional parties in next Lok Sabha polls: Abdullah to Opposition

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Srinagar: Veteran politician and former Union minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said the main opposition parties should support strong regional parties as he mooted a “one against one” strategy to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“I am not so sure of the Opposition’s unity but as far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned I think the states matter now and all the opposition parties must realise that,” Abdullah, 85, said.

Giving an example, he said that if in West Bengal Mamata Banerjee is strong, “we must make sure that she does well, rather than creating hurdles for the TMC leader. Similarly, in Bihar Nitish (Kumar’s JDU) and RJD, if they are doing well, don’t create hurdles for them. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh (Yadav of SP) is doing well so let us not create such a situation.

“And I think one of the most important things is that if you really want to beat them (BJP), then there should be one against one. Where a Congress candidate can win, let not another one stand. Where another party can win, let that party have the chance of putting their candidate. That is one way of really beating them at their game,” Abdullah told PTI.

Asked whether he had suggested this approach to the opposition leaders, the National Conference president said they should think about what they should do. “I hope they will consider this.”

The three-time chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar also spoke about the alleged misuse of central agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department.

“It has been done in the past. Can’t be only these (BJP) people are doing it. They are doing it 100 times more than what others did. But I hope future governments do not use these agencies just to browbeat the Opposition.

“We must not use these agencies to browbeat our Opposition. The Opposition is necessary in this nation. And, therefore, using these agencies in this manner in a democratic country is totally wrong and should not have been done,” he said.

He said the Opposition is a must for any democratic country and added “that is how democracy will flourish and India will become much stronger in the world.”

He also lamented that India has fallen to 161 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index and said, “This shows how much we have destroyed the freedom of the press…. It does not augur well for democracies. The press keeps a check on you and that check is necessary for a democratic country.” PTI

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