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SOURCE: PTI

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has said people are identifying themselves with his party’s campaign as it is talking about factors important to them: the sense of ”betrayal” since August 5, 2019 and their issues remaining unaddressed in the absence of a popular government since 2018.

Abdullah, who is contesting from the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, accuses the ”BJP and agencies” of riding ”multiple horses in this race to see which one can ultimately damage the National Conference”. Overwhelmed by people’s enthusiastic response to his roadshows and rallies, especially in areas hitherto dominated by the separatist ideology, the NC vice president said the BJP’s tactics in various constituencies indicated a calculated approach to secure advantages through alliances against his party.

”Well obviously, the people have identified themselves with our campaign; they have joined in large numbers and with enthusiastic crowds. But it is also true that there is a general sense of betrayal that what happened on August 5, 2019 was the betrayal of all the promises and commitments made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Abdullah told PTI in an interview.

He said the larger participation of people in his election rallies is an answer to the betrayal of August 2019. The Centre abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019 which granted special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The centre also downgraded the state into two union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to large turnouts during his election rallies, Abdullah said the absence of an elected government since 2018 is a factor as those who are currently administering them are disconnected from people’s daily struggles.

”This is by far the worst government that we have seen in a very very long time and there is almost no interaction between the general population of Jammu and Kashmir and those who govern them. They live in these ivory castles and are immune to what the people are saying and the difficulties that they are facing. It is unfortunate that this is the reality,” he said.

On a question about the BJP not fielding candidates from the three seats of the Kashmir division, Abdullah said contesting polls would have clearly countered their false claims and they would have ”failed the first test, which is an electoral test, (as) the people would have voted resoundingly against the BJP.

”I am not surprised that they have not put up candidates in Baramulla and Srinagar but the way they manoeuvred the delimitation of Anantnag seat and then sought to give reservation to Paharis with their eye on the electoral gains and benefits from this,” he said.

Abdullah said he was actually surprised that the BJP did not put up a candidate in the Anantnag parliamentary seat. ”But clearly this was the price that the Apni party was able to extract from the BJP for supporting the People’s Conference against me in Baramulla.” The BJP had announced support to Apni Party candidate from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. The seat goes to poll in the fifth phase of elections on May 20.