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Omar Abdullah hints at staying away from grand alliance against BJP in 2024 LS polls

RAJOURI: Omar Abdullah on Saturday hinted at his party staying away from the grand alliance against the BJP in the next year's general elections, saying most of such parties remained silent when the Article 370 was abrogated.

He also said the talk on a pre-poll alliance in Jammu and Kashmir would be premature before the sounding of bugle for the assembly elections in the Union Territory.

"What we have (to contribute) outside Jammu and Kashmir? We have a total of five (Lok Sabha) seats and what storm these seats can create? We have to fight against the BJP on these seats and what is going outside J&K is a secondary question," Abdullah told reporters on reaching the border district of Rajouri.

The former chief minister was responding to a question on the possibility of the National Conference joining hands with other parties against the BJP in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

"Compulsions aside, I do not see any benefit from such an alliance for the party and Jammu and Kashmir. I am repeatedly saying that when they need us, they knock on our doors. When (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal is in trouble, he needs our support but where were these leaders in 2019 when we faced a big deceit," he said, referring to the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh by the central government.

Abdullah asked who among them stood with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Where were those who are raising hue and cry today for safeguarding the Constitution and democracy when we faced the murder of democracy. They did not speak against it and the fact of the matter is that they supported the move (in Parliament)," the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.

However, he said there are only four parties - DMK, Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and two Left parties - which always stood with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Leave these parties aside, show me someone among other parties who wholeheartedly supported us. We will fight against the BJP on our five seats, let them do whatever they want," Abdullah said.

On the possibility of a pre-poll alliance ahead of assembly elections in J&K, he said the question is premature as elections are nowhere visible.

"Let the election bugle be sounded, we will sit together to take a call on this. The opinion or decision of one person is not acceptable, all the leaders of the party (NC) will discuss the issue, weigh its pros and cons and reach a consensus," he said.

The National Conference leader said the bugle has yet to reach the person who is going to sound it and so such type of questions serve nothing.

Abdullah said he is tired of answering questions about the delay in holding of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. "It is evident that the BJP is not ready and had it been ready, elections would have taken place," he claimed.

"The Election Commissioner had himself said that after getting information from the home ministry on the (security) situation, they can announce the poll dates. Maybe they have not got the information so far, which is not understandable," he said, adding that the chief election commissioner admitted that there is a vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir. "Why is it not being filled up?".

Abdullah, who used the Mughal Road to reach Rajouri to express condolences to the family of a party colleague who breathed his last at Nowshera sometime back, said the efforts of the administration should be to minimize the suffering of the public and control growing militancy in the region.

"Unfortunately, there is a gap between the administration and the people under the governor rule. An elected government is always better than a nominated government," he said. "People suffer because the administration is least bothered whether their issues are addressed or not," the NC leader alleged.

To a question on commuters facing inconvenience due to long queues at security check points on the Mughal Road, he said the recent terror incidents in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch indicate growing militancy in the region.

"If the commuters are facing difficulty, it is proof that the administration has failed and the security situation has worsened instead of improving. The people are faced with problems which were not there before," he said.

On the BJP's claim of unprecedented development in Jammu and Kashmir during the past nine years of the Narendra Modi government, he said "everything will be known" once the elections take place.


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