New Delhi: Making a categoric statement that his National Conference party will never be a part of NDA, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was responsible for 2002 Gujarat riots for which he was neither saying sorry nor owning up the responsibility.
Participating in a conversation on “Google hangout”, Omar spoke on various issues including the upcoming general polls, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Hurriyat Conference’s role in Kashmir issue, Afzal Guru and Congress’ prospects.
The 44-year-old Chief Minister said he had submitted his resignation after 2002 Gujarat riots which was not accepted by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“I sent my resignation to Vajpayee. I refused to vote along the government at that time. There was a resolution in Parliament that required the NDA to vote together, I refused to and I abstained from that.
“My resignation was not accepted and I did not press, may be foolishly. I didn’t believe that Mr Vajpyee was responsible for riots, I believe Narendra Modi was. By pressing for my resignation, I would have made Mr Vajpayee responsible for these riots, which I don’t believe he was,” Omar said while answering questions.
However, Omar, who was Minister of State for External Affairs in the Vajpayee government, feels that Vajpayee could have held Modi more accountable.
“Yes, he (Vajpayee) could have held Modi to a greater accountability but he (Vajpayee) wasn’t responsible for those riots and that is the only reason I did not press for that resignation,” he said.
On whether there was a possibility of any future alliance with the NDA, Omar, who is the working president of NC, said, “Absolutely not. I know in politics some well wisher often advise us to never close our option and in politics the worst thing to do is to make any categoric statement like this but this is a situation where I wish to make a categoric statement like this.”
On Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots and whether he expected the Gujarat Chief Minister to apologise for it, Omar said, “Do I expect, yes, of course, I do. The country expects that somebody who is claiming to be Prime Ministerial material should at least own up. Forget about apologising, if you can’t apologise, at least take up the responsibility.”
Omar said the previous relationship that NC had with NDA was because of Vajpayee and “let me be very clear on that. We saw Vajpayeeji as a unifying factor and our initiative was based on the peace initiative he had with Pakistan and the peace efforts within Jammu and Kashmir.
“All that bore out was why we had a good relationship with him. And there is no body in the BJP who matches that sort of unifying stature. Its personalities which drives the agenda. I mean look at the positions that Vajpayee had and the mannerism.”
Replying to a question from one of the participants that Congress’ hands were also not clean, Omar said, “Congress has a far more unifying agenda and let’s face it NC’s ideology fits with Congress better than it fits with BJP.”
To a separate question about Modi’s presence on social media, the Chief Minister said Modi’s use of Twitter was only one way and to sermonise his followers.
“Well I think his (Modi’s) presence is very one way. He speaks and everybody listens. I haven’t seen any sort of interactive social media presence. I guess Modi needs to be a little more responsive. His twitter is basically his sermonising to his followers.
“I haven’t seen any effort to engage. I understand he has far too many followers and how many can he engage but even an odd engagement would be better than no engagement at all,” he said.
On a question about AFSPA, Omar, who has been advocating its partial withdrawal, said he was in favour of the Army getting a legal cover to operate in a law and order situation in the state.
“Now AFSPA has certain provisions that are extremely draconian. Things like the powers to search, the powers to seize, the powers to enter a person’s house without permission, break into their shops or business establishments, the power to set-up a road block at will, absence of any accountability in civil courts.
“The problem is when (AFSPA) is used to get protection from courts, to get protection from the normal system of justice. That’s what creates problem with the people,” the Chief Minister said while drawing the attention to Pathribal fake encounter case.
He said in Pathribal fake encounter case, the CBI and the Army were at loggerheads in the Supreme Court because the probe agency has inputs against certain army people and wants charges to be framed while Army believes that under AFSPA it can’t be done.
“This is where AFSPA creates whole lot of misgivings with people. A time has come to start looking at the possibility of removing AFSPA from some parts of the state where the security duties could be passed on to the paramilitary and state police,” he said.
At the same time, the Chief Minister said, “Some of the draconian aspects of the Act can be done away with. And this is not a demand just from Jammu and Kashmir, there is a much older demand from the North East.”
In reply to a question that despite being a part of UPA why he could not have his way, Omar said, “I have made an issue out it. There are two sides to the story. While I believe that the time has come and there are some who agree with me, the fact is Army has said no and the current UPA government obviously did not want to risk sort of a worsening of the situation.”
The Chief Minister refused to buy an argument of Army that after US withdrawal from Afghanistan there could be increase in violence in the state.
“I don’t believe that to be true but other than my own belief, there is no way that I can categorically say that it is not a fact,” he said.
“Which would then mean that the improvement on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir is because of the American presence in Afghanistan. It means we have absolutely nothing to do with improvement in situation. In which case we should stop crowing about it,” he said.—PTI