BJP strangled democracy in J&K: Omar Abdullah

| Updated: 13 May, 2024 11:45 am IST

SRINAGAR: In an exclusive interview with The New Indian during the election campaign in Kupwara, JKNC candidate for the North Kashmir Lok Sabha seat and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, expressed concerns over the BJP’s efforts to undermine democracy in the region. He emphasized that for the past six years, there has been a lack of an elected state government.

When asked about the significant involvement of individuals in election campaigns, Omar stated that such dynamics were not unique to the BJP era, citing his own experiences dating back to 2004 and even earlier in 1989 and 1999. He clarified that the current scenario is not solely due to the BJP but rather despite its influence.

Omar Abdullah said that this election marks a significant departure for his party. He noted that it is the first election contested within a union territory framework, following the events of August 5, 2019. Omar highlighted that this election unfolds amidst central governance, devoid of an elected state administration in J&K. He underscored that this also coincides with the conclusion of the delimitation exercise, resulting in altered constituency boundaries. Omar described this electoral process as a learning curve, anticipating shifts in voting patterns and responses from the redefined constituencies.

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Discussing the primary concern in this Lok Sabha election, Omar Abdullah said, “For us, the foremost issue revolves around the events of August 5, 2019, and subsequent measures, including the delimitation process and the significant alterations to our domicile laws.” He emphasised the unfulfilled promises and anticipated changes in J&K post-August 5, 2019.

Abdullah also clarified that developmental and local issues would be addressed during Assembly elections, while this election serves as a platform to communicate the impact of the events of August 5, 2019, to the wider population of the country.

Responding to a question regarding his relocation from Srinagar to contest elections in North Kashmir, Omar explained that while his father, Dr Farooq Abdullah, remains in Srinagar, currently representing the constituency, Aga Ruhullah Mehdi is now the NC candidate for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Omar elaborated that considering the political landscape and the BJP’s manoeuvres, particularly in North Kashmir, the party deemed him the most suitable candidate to address ongoing conspiracies. He noted that the delimitation process facilitated his candidacy, as his assembly constituency, Beerwah, was redistributed from Budgam to Baramulla. Omar emphasized that this transition aligns with his familial ties to North Kashmir, given his grandmother’s roots in Tangmarg, underscoring it as a natural progression for him.

ALSO READ: Arrest of Delhi CM is disgrace for democracy: Omar Abdullah – THE NEW INDIAN 

When questioned about his stance on leaving Mehbooba Mufti to contest alone in this election, Omar clarified that no one deserted Mehbooba Mufti; she chose to pursue her path. He reiterated that for the National Conference (NC), the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) transcended mere electoral gains; it was about upholding a broader cause, to which they remain steadfastly committed. Omar lamented any perception that the PDP viewed the PAGD or alliance with India solely as a strategy to secure parliamentary seats from the NC, deeming it unfortunate.

He explained that any agreement on seat sharing necessitates a predetermined formula, using the 2019 parliamentary election as a reference point, where the NC secured seats in Anantnag, Srinagar, and Baramulla, while three seats went to the BJP. Omar emphasized that during discussions with the India bloc, they delineated that the three seats held by the NC were non-negotiable.

Regarding Jammu, Udhampur, and Ladakh, Omar stated that the decision was deferred to the Congress. He mentioned communicating to the Congress, and subsequently to Mehbooba Mufti, that despite having six parliamentary seats, the scope for seat sharing was limited. Omar concluded by expressing openness to exploring seat sharing with the PDP in future assembly elections.

Omar Abdullah remarked that if the BJP had succeeded in gaining the support of the Kashmiri people, they would have nominated candidates in this Lok Sabha election. However, their absence from the electoral fray in Kashmir indicates their failure to win the trust and favour of the Kashmiri populace.

While answering a question on Naya Kashmir,” Omar said that cinema halls were operational even during NC’s tenure”. Omar highlighted the dire state of roads and the significant challenges faced by people enduring 6 to 8-hour power outages coupled with high power tariffs.

Omar conceded a decrease in stone-pelting incidents but emphasized the need for the Government of India to provide clarity on the number of Kashmiri youth detained outside J&K, suggesting this is a factor contributing to the decline in such incidents.

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