New Delhi: Claiming that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has taken over the Bharatiya Janata Party, Union Minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said that it is advantage NDA in the Lok Sabha elections. Farooq Abdullah said that LK Advani and Jaswant Singh are secular leaders and added that Modi is supported by elements which are communal and will destroy secular value of India.
"My feeling is that Modi being supported by RSS and others who are basically communal element will destroy the secular element of India. Today its entirely Modi Modi and Modi. There is no BJP. If there was BJP, then there was difference and Jaswant Singh won't have left. Advani would not have been treated the way he has been treated," said Abdullah in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN.
Here is the full text of the interview:
Marya Shakil: Sir in January you made the statement that if Modi is elected as the Prime Minister, it will be the will of the people and that your party will accept the verdict. This was largely seen as National Conference not been averse to the idea of Modi as Prime Minister. Is Modi acceptable to you as the prime minister?
Farooq Abdullah: Let me make one thing very straight. I don't think it's the question of my accepting Modi or not, accepting Modi. It will be the people of India who have to decide the future of India. Do they want a secular India or do they want a communal India. My feeling is that Modi being supported by RSS and others who are basically communal element will destroy the secular element of India. Therefore, I don't think National Conference as such will ever accept this to happen. We hope that India will not go communal way, it is a secular nation and it should remain secular so that we all can survive. That is the greatness about this nation, of unity in diversity; it is this diversity that we have to protect. I wonder whether Modi will be able to protect the diversity.
Marya Shakil: You are saying that Modi is not acceptable to you. If post elections, BJP brings out another phase, say LK Advani or Sushma Swaraj or anybody else, will that person be acceptable to the National Conference because you have been part of the NDA in past.
Farooq Abdullah: You see these are all conjunctures. No one knows what is going to happen. So let's not jump the gun. See what happens. But as far as we are concerned, we are absolutely certain that we don't want to be a part of a communal element. If India has to survive, it has to survive which is diversity. That is all I believe in.
Marya Shakil: Do you believe that the complete BJP is practicing the policy of communalism or is it just a person?
Farooq Abdullah: I think today there is nothing like a BJP. Today it's entirely Modi Modi and Modi. There is no BJP. If there was BJP, then there was difference. And Jaswant Singh won't have left. Advani would not have been treated the way he has been treated. I think one thing is very essential, that it is all Modi. And I saw yesterday, how in a jiffy the President of BJP first says BJP will be coming into rule, and within few minutes he changes and says no, it is Modi. So there is no BJP.
Marya Shakil: So you are saying there is no BJP. Do you think, you talked about Jaswant Singh. Do you think the manner in which Jaswant Singh has been treated, LK Advani's candidacy was kept pending till the last minute, Murli Manohar Joshi was asked to move to Kanpur, does that make you sad? Because they are your contemporaries.
Farooq Abdullah:I think these people were well deserve not only BJP, they were also in many way secular. And I know personally Jaswant Singh, in a sense when he was a minister for finances as well foreign affairs, and I was Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and I needed help and financial help was essential for our state. It was he I used to turn to so that he can accompany to the Prime Minister Vajpaye jee and speak for us. How can I forget that? Here was a man who has seen Kashmir as the Army Officer, every part of it, and knew the sufferings of people. Felt so much for them that he was out to help in every manner. I feel sad when I see such people, who have devoted so much to India being side lined.
Marya Shakil: Is LK Advani also secular for you?
Farooq Abdullah: Yes. very much secular. On many fronts I think you remember he wrote a book on Jinnah when he went to Pakistan. Even that was reacted by RSS and he was really, he was castrated for that.
Marya Shakil: So can you look at joining NDA in case if BJP post election projects LK Advani?
Farooq Abdullah:No I don't think so. We have been part of UPA and I don't think I am one of those who likes to ditch people. I have suffered in the past. But I have never deceived people.
Marya Shakil: At the moment Dr Abdullah will you accept that it seems to be advantage NDA.
Farooq Abdullah: Well obviously it because its all Modi, Modi, Modi. And unfortunately UPA has not come up to that standard. But I think things are changing. I see the .. I think many things change now.
Marya Shakil: Do you think Rahul Gandhi perhaps has not really succeeded in striking a chord?
Farooq Abdullah: No I think he is doing his best. Whatever he can. You know it's a new experience for a man. He has been pushed into the thing and he is really working very hard. And I hope people realise. His heart is in the right place. He thinks rightly. I hope they realise that he will be able to deliver.
Marya Shakil:Will you be ready to be a part of UPA under Rahul Gandhi?
Farooq Abdullah:You see I am now too old to serve in the government. I have done enough. I will help outside. But there will be other people from my party who will be there to help him, to carry on, my son himself is there.
Marya Shakil:Are you indicating some kind of retirement plan here?
Farooq Abdullah:May be my son might come. You never know, time might show.
Marya Shakil:So Omar Abdullah might come to Delhi and be a part of the government? You are saying under Rahul Gandhi.
Farooq Abdullah:It could be. If that situation arises and he feels that he needs Omar for his work, I am sure Omar will not hide away, Omar will be very ready to join if that need will be.
Marya Shakil:But Dr Abdullah wont be a part of Rahul led government?
Farooq Abdullah:I said I am too old now to run the governance. I have done enough.
Marya Shakil:BJP has inducted well known journalist MJ Akbar who he spoke to our editor in chief yesterday and he said that time has come to look beyond 2002. Do you think Muslims of India should look ahead, beyond 2002?
Farooq Abdullah: I don't know what has happened to MJ Akbar. And I fought for his election also when he fought in 1989. He is a secular man. What turned him towards Modi I don't know? I think I will have to meet him and talk to him about it. I think we all are afraid. I don't know how he is not afraid. I think we all are afraid, probably he doesn't see beyond a certain point. And I see that dangers that might be there when Modi is there.
Marya Shakil: Don't you think it should be left to the judiciary to decide whether Modi is guilty or not and he should be perhaps given a chance?
Farooq Abdullah: Judiciary will have to decide but there is a higher judiciary that is God. You may escape these judiciaries but you cannot escape his justice. That justice will come one day.
Marya Shakil: Sir do you think the Congress perhaps is practicing what is being seen as politics of fear with Muslims of India. That's why we heard those statements from Congress President. First she said 'Maut ka Saudagar' then 'Zeher ki Kheti'. This politics of fear?
Farooq Abdullah:I think politics of fear is not existed now. It's been there for a long time. Ever since partition. The biggest sufferers of partition are Muslims of India. And that's why the Muslims of India with great difficulty are now establishing themselves in every field. And they do fear that the secular trend of India must remain so that we all can survive. Therefore, if that fear is being created, it is not because it's being created, that has been a fear all the time, in the mind of Muslims.
Marya Shakil:But sir, congress is perhaps using that fear, that you are talking about?
Farooq Abdullah: I don't know whether they are using it or not. I think Muslims do fear.
Marya Shakil:Sir PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Syed has praised BJP, for what he has said is pragmatic approach towards Jammu and Kashmir and he has talked about Vajpayee's 'insaniyat ke daire mein' approach towards problems of Kashmir. Why do you think he is making these statements?
Farooq Abdullah: He wants to join the next NDA government. He wants to be a part of the NDA under Modi. That is why he is doing all these. I think he has made his path clear that he is going to be part of BJP.
Marya Shakil:If BJP actually adopts that 'insaniyat' approach that Vajpayee talked about will that be also acceptable to National Conference?
Farooq Abdullah:What is 'insaniyat' approach? Point here is we put in a document for autonomy. By over more than 2/3rd majority of the Assembly it was thrown out of the window. So what is he talking about? The final decision, let me be very frank about it, the political solution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will have to be done between India and Pakistan. Whether it is new routes to be open, whether softening of the border has to take place, or other things have to be done, it is all to be done by the Government of India and Government of Pakistan. Now when you say 'insaniyat ke daire ke andar', first of all if 'insaniyat ke daire mein' it has to be done why is it that even that government did not think of AFSA being removed from areas. Where is 'insaniyat'? That literally you can shoot anyone, you can murder anybody and you cannot get chargesheeted. The point is do they have the will to get the people of Kashmir to realise that their future lies in this nation, and that we are here to see that justice is done to you in every form.
Marya Shakil: So will you in a way say Dr. Abdullah that BJP's approach has not been pragmatic?
Farooq Abdullah: In many things they have succeeded, for instance the Rawalpindi road opening, that is efforts of Pakistan and Vajpayee, let's be very clear about it.
Marya Shakil: Vajpayee was also the first Prime Minister to hold talks with separatists.
Farooq Abdullah: yes, and Vajpayee very clearly I must say, had this in mind, which he told them, that the part of Kashmir that you hold, you better hold, and the part of Kashmir we hold, we hold and we will try and understand each other. Pakistan did not accept this suggestion, when he went. So we are still at the cross road. And then when we pass that autonomy bill, we felt we had lot of problems in Delhi.
Marya Shakil: P Chidambaram, your cabinet colleague is not contesting elections, a number of Congress MP's have opted out of the electoral battle. Do you think the Congress perhaps has accepted defeat much before the first ballot is to be cast?
Farooq Abdullah: I don't think so. I think Chidambaram has made up his mind that he is not going to contest. But don't under estimate Chidambaram. He is going to be back. He may be in Rajya Sabha. Chidambaram is not dead, far from it. Chidambaram is going to be one of the most important constituents of the UPA, even in future.
Marya Shakil: But sir this entire approach, the manner in which the Congress is approaching the elections, is it too late for them?
Farooq Abdullah: Nothing is too late, nothing is too late. You have to keep on trying and hope for the best.
Marya Shakil: Third front is again taking shape.
Farooq Abdullah: Yes
Marya Shakil: And its often being called as the biggest mirage of Indian politics. Do you also have some kind of Prime Ministerial ambitions?
Farooq Abdullah: No I have no Prime Ministerial ambitions, but I do feel and I hope that Third Front gets enough seats, and then the UPA has the courage to back them to form a government.
Marya Shakil: When you say the Third Front should get enough seats, who do you think in the Third Front, the current contours of Third Front is best placed to be the Prime Minister?
Farooq Abdullah: There are lots of candidates. Time will only decide. There is Nitish, there is people who will be thrown up, Naveen Patnaik himself.
Marya Shakil: Who is your favourite in that list?
Farooq Abdullah:I n politics, there are no favourites, let me be very clear. It's only interests. There are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends.
Marya Shakil: Can you become also, will you be also looking at being a part of Third Front later, post elections?
Farooq Abdullah: If UPA becomes part of Third Front, yes.
Marya Shakil: Do they hold a chance?
Farooq Abdullah: God only knows who has a chance. No body can tell.
Marya Shakil: My last question to you sir, do you have a retirement plan? You have been in public life for a very long.
Farooq Abdullah: I think in politics you never retire. You just slowly wither away. I have no plans for retirement.
Marya Shakil: In November December, Jammu and Kashmir, your state is going to polls. Would you be willing to go back to Jammu and Kashmir and be perhaps the Chief Minister of the state?
Farooq Abdullah: No, no more. I did my duty. I have done enough. I am no longer hankering for any position as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned.
Marya Shakil: What if your supporters say because number of supporters have indicated that they would rather have the elder Abdullah over the smaller Abdullah.
Farooq Abdullah: I think younger Abdullah is doing well. And he has shown his worth.
Marya Shakil: Thank you so much for speaking to us sir.