Today: Jun 25, 2024

Omar Abdullah pitches for a strong national-level Muslim leader in the country

3 mins read

“Azad could have played the leadership role but he confined himself to just the Chenab Valley”

Pahalgam: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah highlighted the absence of prominent Muslim leaders on the national stage when the community faces challenges, and said Ghulam Nabi Azad could have played the leadership role within the Congress, but his fledgling DPAP is limited to just the Chenab Valley now.

Abdullah emphasised the need for a strong national-level Muslim leader to give Muslims in the rest of the country “some reassurance”.

Azad had ended his more than five-decade-long association with the Congress in August 2022 and launched his own party — the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) — the next month.

“Unfortunately, he (Azad) was a man who would have been on the forefront of the Congress campaign. He would have been on the forefront of the leadership role within the Congress. I don’t know what went wrong but I feel bad…we don’t have many Muslim leaders on the national stage,” Abdullah said.

Azad not being there is a loss to the wider Muslim community, especially at this time when Muslims are facing such a “brutal onslaught” from the BJP, he said.

He said everyday there is some attack or the other whether on the issue of ‘Mangalsutra’, the distribution of the country’s resources, the talk surrounding the Babri Masjid or somebody putting a lock on the Ram temple, and now the latest one being “Muslims will bulldoze the Ram Mandir”, he said.

“Why?” he asked. “Are we mad? We have accepted the SC judgement and the Ram Mandir is ready. When have Muslims bulldozed temples in the last 100 years? We have been at the receiving end of it. This is the time when you need a national-level Muslim leader to give Muslims in the rest of the country some reassurance. Sadly we don’t have that at the moment.”

He said the BJP’s campaign lacks a central unifying theme, focuses on religious polarisation with inclusion of issues like Pakistan. “Adani and Ambani were not spared in this campaign either which I found particularly surprising. Honestly, none of the Hindu Muslims stuff has surprised me but accusing Adani and Ambani of collecting black money, and that too distributing it in trucks. If their one truck had come to my home I’d have been using a plane to campaign,” he said.

But despite some unease in the BJP’s campaign, their overall tally may not see a significant change, he said.

“It would be easy to conclude that BJP is in trouble but I don’t want to be accused of wishful thinking. Part of me thinks, yes they are in trouble, part of me believes that when the results come out their number will be very similar to what it is now just a bit plus minus but not significantly. This whole thing that (they) will be reduced to a minority government or voted out completely, honestly, I am not sure. But there is no doubt that there seems to be a bit of unease in the BJP campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing a public meeting in the Pahalgam area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday, the National Conference vice-president said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) helped the BJP rule for more than three years in Jammu and Kashmir which led to the abrogation of Article 370.

“The PDP helped the BJP lay its base here for 3.5 years. With what face do they seek votes from you today by saying they will safeguard it (Article 370)? They had a hand in abrogating it. They played their role in ending it, how will they save it?” Abdullah told the gathering.

He said the PDP has been maintaining it is contesting the election on behalf of INDIA bloc, but its leaders have never spoken against the BJP.

“This election has been going on for two months now, for God’s sake, show me one occasion where the PDP has spoken against the BJP. I went to campaign in the Udhampur seat, show me one place where Mehbooba spoke against the BJP there,” he said.

Referring to his party’s support to the PDP after the 2014 assembly polls — which was declined by the PDP who formed an alliance with the BJP — Abdullah said the situation in J&K would have been different if there was no PDP-BJP government.

“Had they taken support from us and the Congress, the government would have run for six years and our flag and our constitution would still have been there. There would not have been any danger to our lands, we would not have been disrespected like that and the BJP would not have defamed us,” he said.

“Now we do not know for how long we will have to fight this and to seek our rights,” he said.

The former J&K chief minister claimed that the day the BJP and the PDP came to power, the BJP started working on the abrogation of Article 370.

“Whenever then Home minister Rajnath Singh addressed the media along with the PDP, he would always say that we have to make a final settlement of Kashmir, but he never said what that final settlement was,” he said.

Abdullah said all the other candidates, contesting Parliamentary polls from Anantnag-Rajouri seat, belong to the parties who “support the communal powers” and NC candidate Mian Altaf is the only one who is fighting that.

He appealed to the people to vote for the NC.

 

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