INTERVIEW | BJP will try to cobble up numbers independent of its two main allies: Omar Abdullah cautions TDP, JD(U)

Abdullah said while the mandate of the Lok Sabha elections was for an alternative to the BJP government, a viable alternative was not visible at this stage.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah
National Conference leader Omar AbdullahFile Photo | PTI

SRINAGAR: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday said the two key non-BJP constituents of the NDA government - TDP and JD(U) - should regularly look over their shoulders as it will not be long before the BJP will start 'Operation Lotus' to remove the dependence on them

In an interview with PTI, Abdullah said while the mandate of the Lok Sabha elections was for an alternative to the BJP government, a viable alternative was not visible at this stage.

"I believe that both the two main allies of the NDA should look over their shoulder at very regular intervals. I think it will not be long before Operation Lotus starts again. The BJP will try to cobble up the numbers independent of Chandra Nabu (Naidu) sahab and Nitish Kumar sahab, so that they will not be dependent on these people. Their own parties are probably at risk in this as well," Abdullah said.

The former chief minister said the number of ministries given to the allies, on which the BJP-led government was dependent, is abysmal.

"The parties that the government is so dependent on and the number of ministries they have got in this government is actually quite abysmal. So that is also something to keep in mind, but they are now the party in government, NDA governs this country. Let's see what happens," he added.

Asked if the INDIA bloc had missed a chance to cobble up a majority to form the government, Abdullah said the opposition alliance acted sensibly.

"If we tried to form an alliance and failed, then I would have been asked 'Is the INDIA bloc power hungry? Can you not stay out of government? Do you believe that only you can govern the country?'

"I think the INDIA bloc very sensibly accepted the mandate of the people which is that it is not in favour of Prime Minister Modi (but) it is for an alternative. (However), that alternative is not immediately visible but we will keep that option open," he added.

Asked about the gains made by the opposition in key states like Uttar Pradesh, Abdullah said it was due to a mix of factors like anti-incumbency and internal power tussle within the BJP.

"I think it is a combination of both anti-incumbency and infighting .... and arrogance that played a part. It is no secret that there is a sort of tussle within the BJP as to who comes after Prime Minister Modi. The prime minister has a self-imposed age limit of 75 (years) which they have now said will be relaxed in his case. But if it is not so, isn't then two years down the line you are looking for the other prime minister? I think one of the victims in this matter was the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (Shivraj Singh Chouhan). It's no secret that he was not allowed to be the chief minister so that he would not be a threat in future leadership battles," he said.

The National Conference leader said there were some leaders in the BJP who were nervous about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and "his role in national politics".

Asked if the INDIA bloc can sustain itself as an opposition alliance for the future, Abdullah expressed doubts about it.

"I don't know, already you have the Aam Admi Party saying that 'this (alliance) was about Parliament polls. We haven't taken a view about the Delhi assembly elections'.

"There was no seat sharing in West Bengal within the INDIA bloc. So, how much this will translate into forthcoming assembly elections I have no idea. I can't say," he added.

In response to a question about the NC contesting Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls in a pre-poll alliance with Congress, Abdullah said it will have to be first discussed within the party.

"That I can't say. This is something that we will have to discuss within the party. The party president will take a view and a lot depends on what sort of discussion we have with the Congress party," he added.

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