Press Trust of India

Azad helping BJP divide secular votes: Omar

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Banihal: In a veiled attack on the BJP, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday accused it of “destroying” the country’s communal harmony and alleged that the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led DPAP was helping the saffron party divide secular votes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah participated in a roadshow in the Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir to campaign for INDIA bloc candidate Choudhary Lal Singh.

Congress’ Lal Singh is pitted against Union minister and BJP candidate Jitendra Singh in the Udhampur-Kathua parliamentary constituency, which goes to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election on April 19. DPAP’s G M Saroori is among 10 others in the fray.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani accompanied Abdullah during the roadshow in the Khari area of Banihal.

“There are two types of ideologies, one which is taking yatras to spread hatred, destroy communal harmony, pull down mosques and trigger bloodshed and the other whose aim is to unite the country, overcome religious discard, revive brotherhood and ensure peace,” Abdullah said without taking any names.

“Your vote will have a bearing for the next five years and so you have to choose whom to vote this time as there is no chance to correct yourself later,” Omar, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, said. He accused Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) chairman Azad of fielding a candidate from the constituency at the behest of the BJP to divide the secular votes in the Chenab Valley region.

“BJP MP represented the seat for 10 years but today they need someone for help… Why the DPAP fielded a candidate only from Udhampur? Why not from Jammu where they could have fielded a Hindu candidate to cut BJP’s votes. They have not fielded him (Saroori) to win the seat as otherwise, Azad himself would have contested from there,” Abdullah said.

He expressed regret over Azad “playing into the hands of the BJP” and asserted that his father, Farooq Abdullah, was very close to the DPAP chairman.

It was the National Conference which facilitated the entry of Azad, a former Congress veteran, into the Rajya Sabha twice, Abdullah said.

“He (Azad) was among the tallest leaders and we were of the opinion that he might be the country’s president or vice president in case Congress comes to power,” Abdullah said.

Azad resigned from all party positions in August 2022, describing the Congress as “comprehensively destroyed” and accusing its leadership of committing “fraud” on the party in the name of “sham” internal elections.

He launched the DPAP in September of the same year after ending his more than five-decade-long association with the Congress.

Abdullah said the Congress gave Azad everything and he used to be a leader of national stature. But he ruined his political career and reduced himself to a leader of a parliamentary constituency, he said.

“The duration for which he was a member of the Congress Working Committee is more than my age. When he left the Congress, he made an announcement to form a national party but how many candidates he has fielded in the Lok Sabha elections? When his party announced his candidature from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, he said on record that he was not consulted,” the 54-year-old Abdullah said.

The reality is when the NC fielded its candidate, Mian Altaf, from the seat, Azad’s legs began shaking and he got the signal from the BJP to pull back, Abdullah claimed.

The NC vice president said the PDAP candidate in Udhampur will only “weaken the voice” of the people.

“Remember to vote for the hand symbol (of Congress) as voting for other symbols will go to Lotus (BJP) which destroyed Jammu and Kashmir by dividing it into two Union Territories, taking away our identity, honour and constitutional rights,” he said, criticising the administration for not announcing a holiday on Eid-ul-Fitr and shifting an Imam of Hazratbal shrine who had converted a man to Islam during Ramzan.

He also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance on the restoration of assembly and statehood to Jammu and Kashmir during a rally in Udhampur this week and said, “The Supreme Court has already set a deadline (of September 30) for holding of assembly elections in J&K and so Modi’s remark is no favour to the people.”

“The assembly was dissolved in J&K in 2018 and since then we are demanding polls to restore democracy,” he said, adding it was only the BJP which had taken away the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir and restoring it is not a favour.

“What has the BJP done and what new projects it has launched over the past 10 years in J&K. The four-laning of (Jammu-Srinagar national) highway was sanctioned during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, while the work on the railway line to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country was also started by the Congress government,” he said.

He said no new schools or colleges were opened or upgraded, while the much talked about industrialisation of Jammu and Kashmir has not happened over the past 10 years.


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