It would be a dangerous mistake to ignore Narendra Modi, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said, adding the UPA has failed to offer an alternative to the people.
Speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times, the chief minister said, “I think it would be foolish for us (UPA constituents) to ignore the Modi factor. In fact, it would be a dangerous mistake.”
Elaborating on the ‘Modi factor’, Abdullah said, “Six months ago if you had asked me I would have said the Modi factor would have no effect at all, but today it would be foolish on my part to do that. Modi has galvanised the cadre and there is an expectation even in Jammu that they (the BJP) would return to power under Modi. A galvanised cadre can be a make or break factor in an election.”
The BJP had on September 13 declared the Gujarat chief minster its prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections.
Abdullah admitted that the UPA constituents, including his National Conference, had failed to offer an alternative discourse. “It is my failing,’’ he said. “It is not helping us to allow him such a long rope -- so as to allow him to hang us. As a constituent of the UPA, it is binding on me to devise an alternate discourse but our strategy is to keep our powder dry. I hope we don’t find that we kept it dry for too long.’’
In his first interview since the former army chief General VK Singh made the sensational claim that most ministers in the border state were on the payrolls of the army, Abdullah hit back saying, “We are being projected as paid agents of the army. Militancy is a product of the 1990s, so the question is – who was the army paying before that and for what.”
Abdullah was of the view that the Centre was too patient with the former army chief. “The service book should have been thrown at him when he took the government to court. The army is one of the few apolitical organisations in the country and alarm bells should have rung when he did that.’’
Worried about the increasing attacks along the LoC, the chief minister said, “I have had conversations with the army about the volatility along the Line of Control and the ease with which terrorists are launching attacks in Samba and Keran. These are operations that the army is going to take a long and hard look at.”
Perturbed with the ease and frequency of attacks, the chief minister warned that the militants could even cross the International Border like they did at Hiranagar. On September 26, a group of militants had crossed into India, hitched an auto ride and stormed a police station and then an army camp in Hiranagar, killing 10 people.
“Why worry about them infiltrating through Keran, when they can walk in at Hiranagar?” he said.