In a veiled attack on the Congress, DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said if the BJP achieves its target of more than 400 seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the party which failed to lead the opposition INDIA block would be responsible for it.
The former Congress leader also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for conferring Bharat Ratna on his predecessors PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh and said they deserved the honours for their outstanding contribution for the country.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a public meeting at Garkhal in Pragwal near the International Border on the outskirts of Jammu, Mr Azad said, “I am not an astrologer who could tell whether they (BJP) will cross the 400-mark (in the Lok Sabha polls). If it happens, those who failed to take everyone along will be responsible. I feel they all have teamed up with them.” He was responding to a question about the possibility of the BJP crossing the 400 seat-mark in the upcoming elections and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah’s concern over the health of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
“He (Omar) was a minister in the (A B Vajpayee-led) BJP government. He might have remembered his old loyalty,” Mr Azad said.
Mr Azad, a former chief minister of J&K, said he is neither close to the Congress nor the BJP. “Let the Congress speak what they want. For me, if the BJP is doing anything wrong I am the first to criticize and likewise if Congress is doing anything right, I am giving credit to them.” Mr Azad, who floated Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) in September 2022 after resigning from Congress, welcomed the decision of Prime Minister Modi to award Bharat Ratna to Rao and Singh.
“Rao brought Manmohan Singh as his Finance minister when I was Tourism minister in his cabinet. His liberalization policies revolutionized the economy to keep pace with the outside world which was moving ahead of us. I also advocated liberalization policy to end monopoly in air service,” he said, adding that the liberalization policy introduced by the Rao government is being followed by the Modi government as well.
“Singh was the tallest farmer leader and we have not seen anyone among the farming community to come closer to his stature. Recognizing his contribution for the country will boost the morale of the farming community,” he said.
Mr Azad said he is thankful to the Prime Minister for acknowledging the work of the two leaders in the interest of the nation. “If any work was done for the benefit of the country, it should be appreciated and if the present government is doing this, we should appreciate it.” On the prevailing situation in Pakistan, the DPAP leader said the free and fair elections in neighbouring countries are a far cry due to the interference of the Army in the electoral process.
“Since the formation of Pakistan, we (India) have had differences with it and Pakistan is responsible for the tension between the two countries. Immediately after independence, Pakistan launched an attack and separated our part which is known as Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Our brothers there are not happy,” he said.
He said while India got democracy and saw a change of Prime Ministers through electoral exercise, they got dictatorship and the army is running the governments there. The public representatives are living at the mercy of the Army which decides who wins or loses.
“We are blessed that our army or anyone else is not interfering in our elections and that is democracy. We pray that such an atmosphere prevails there as well for the benefit of the public,” he said.
On Parliament passing the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, adding four communities — Gadda Brahmin, Koli, Paddari Tribe, and Pahari Ethnic Group — to the list of Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said it was a longstanding demand of the people and “we have always supported them on the condition that the reservation enjoyed by Gujjars and Bakerwals remains untouched.”
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