‘For Years I Shielded Them From The Sort of Conspiracies In The Party’, Omar On Slathia, Rana Entry Into BJP

SRINAGAR: The day his friend and colleague, Devinder Singh Rana joined the BJP, Omar Abdullah turned emotional in an interview with Karan Thapar, the same evening. He saw it a loss of a relationship of 22 years.

Omar Abdullah with Devender Singh Rana and Surjit Slathia, the two senior leaders who deserted NC fo BJP. This photograph was taken in Jammu at the funeral of Trilochan Singh Wazir, an NC heavy weight who was murdered.

“In politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent interests, and no permanent enemy’s – just permanent interests,” Omar told Karan Thapar – after a long pause over the question. Though the interview was mostly around the security situation in Kashmir, Thaper said the interview will be incomplete without asking the most important question of the day. “It clearly did not serve their interest to be associated with the National conference any longer. So be it. They are not the first people to leave the National conference, they won’t be the last, we have survived many departures, we will continue to survive the departures,” he said.

Omar was candid in his response. He did not hide anything. “Honestly speaking, It is far less a blow to the National Conference than it is to me personally,” Omar said. “Because I had invested a lot in my relationship particularly with Devender but also with Surjit Salthia. For years now I have been shielding Devendra and to an extent Salathia from the sort of conspiracies in the party, particularly against Devinder.”

“I staked my own personal credibility to give him a degree of comfort in the party. Today those people were right and I was wrong,” Omar Abdullah said. “That is ok, one learns and moves on.”

Finally, Karan asked: “You feel hurt?”

Omar responded: “Difficult, not to. I have invested 22 years in this relationship.”

Asked about the politics in Jammu, Omar said the people tend to make a mistake that Jammu is a homologous space. “Jammu is not a few square kilometres around the Jammu city. It is even the plains of Jammu. The mistake that people like Devender make is that they assume Jammu is just one homogenous entity that thinks exactly alike everywhere. That is not true,” Omar said. “Jammu has many different distinct identities within the umbrella of Jammu. I dare say there will be a lot of people who would not be supporting the idea of what Devender is promoting because it is seen as an overwhelmingly communal agenda.”

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