February 2002 News

Farooq Abdullah calls BJP ''enemy of the nation''

26 February 2002
The Hindustan Times
H. Joshi

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday called Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee''s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ''enemy of the nation'' for alluding that his National Conference had rigged the Jammu-Poonch parliamentary by-elections. He said by accusing the National Conference of using illegal means to win last week''s elections in the state, the BJP and other political parties were playing into the hands of anti-national forces. ''These parties are trying to cover up their own dissensions and failure to mobilize the voters,'' he told reporters before the start of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly''s budget session. He said the BJP and the opposition parties including the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party had ganged up against the National Conference after ''losing'' the by-poll. The Election Commission of India has withheld the results of the February 21 poll that the National Conference is said to have won by a huge margin. ''We have full faith in the Election Commission,'' Farooq said. Asked if the BJP had turned against the National Conference, an ally in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it heads, the chief minister said: ''They are enemies of the nation.'' He said his party''s victory in the polls was a manifestation of the ''fact that National Conference is a nationalist party. It is the only party that can keep Jammu and Kashmir as part of India.'' The chief minister, who steps down as the National Conference chief in April in favour of his son and Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah, said his party was committed to holding assembly elections in the state. ''Indeed, I would go in for assembly elections, but I cannot tell you when that would happen.'' Commenting on BJP''s rout in assembly polls in Uttaranchal, Punjab, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh, its stronghold, Farooq said this election had demonstrated in an ample measure that ''religious politics is buried forever. People cannot be enthused by the temple-mosque issue forever.'' He was referring to BJP''s victories in past election when it had projected itself as a champion of the cause to build a temple on the ruins of a mosque in Ayodhya, which Hindu fanatics had razed in 1992 triggering the worst religious riots in the country that left nearly 3,000 dead. However, Farooq said he did not see any threat to the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government as a result of the BJP defeat in last week''s assembly polls. He also said his National Conference would continue to be part of the NDA.


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