Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday emphasised upon regional parties coming together to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha election as it was necessary to save the country from being divided on religious lines.
The National Conference president denounced films like 'Kashmir Files' and 'The Kerala Story', saying they were destroying India and its constitution by dividing people.
Speaking to reporters after meeting former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda at his residence, the leader said India's diversity should be protected.
"My message to everyone is India is unity in diversity. Let us protect the diversity. It will protect the unity of the country," Abdullah said responding to a query on the need to have a third front.
When asked whether it was necessary for the regional parties to come together to fight the 2024 election against the BJP, Abdullah said, "The question is not BJP, it is the question of the nation. Do you want the nation to be divided on religious basis or do you want the nation to be united together? It's a diverse nation."
Explaining further, he said he has nothing common with Karnataka, nor does Deve Gowda's family have anything common with Kashmir. However, the factor that unites them is nation building.
"What unites us? It's the desire to work together, to build this nation together and to grow together. That is what is important," Abdullah pointed out.
To a question on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar calling a party meeting of all the opposition parties in Patna, Bihar, the NC leader said these meetings will be important because it will unite the opposition together for the election in 2024.
When told that the JD(S) is not an invitee in the meeting, Abdullah was optimistic that slowly everyone in the opposition will come together "irrespective of what they are".
He, however, underlined the need to take everyone on board.
"I think it is important to invite everyone and it is necessary to invite a former Prime Minister (H D Deve Gowda)," Abdullah said.
Regarding elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said elections must happen there.
"Every state in this country should have election. Why should we be denied election? It's four long years. It's a long time. The election commission itself said that elections must be held."
On the question of alliance with the JD(S) for the upcoming parliamentary election as well, he said, "Farooq Abdullah can't tell all this to media. It will come automatically, you see."
Regarding another movie 'Bahattar Hoorain' being planned after Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story, Abdullah said these movies have been created to divide people.
According to him, anything that divides the people of India is destroying India, and its Constitution.
"India belongs to all of us, whether you are a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or whatever you are, whether you belong to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu or Kashmir, Assam, Bengal or Maharashtra, we all are one. These films are used for dividing people. Those who are doing this are doing the greatest damage to this nation," the NC chief said.
About his meeting with former PM and the JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, he said it was a courtesy call.
"My visit was also to thank him for what he did as Prime Minister of India, how he tried to unite India together and what he did for my state. We had a free election," Abdullah said.
When nobody wanted to visit Jammu and Kashmir due to terrorism, Gowda came there as Prime Minister and inaugurated Uri project and went to Rajauri, he explained.
"Both places are close to border. His visit was meant to show to the rest of the world that Kashmir is part of this nation," Abdullah said.
After his meeting with Abdullah, Deve Gowda tweeted, "My dear friend, the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Farooq Abdullah, came to see me today, at my residence. He enquired after my health. I am very grateful to him for having come all the way. We discussed the happenings in the country, especially Kashmir."
"My sincere good wishes are with Farooq sahib and the people of J&K, who gave me a lot of love and affection when I was Prime Minister," Gowda added.
After the meeting, former Chief Minister and Gowda's son H D Kumaraswamy said Abdullah had a courtesy call with his father.
According to him, the visit was not related to any political development as there were no discussions on 2024 elections.
Abdullah called on Gowda after learning about some health issues a few days ago, the JD(S) second-in-command said.
Kumaraswamy said Abdullah thanked Gowda for his pro-people initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir as prime minister.
"Farooq Abdullah said if the nation had a Prime Minister like you (Deve Gowda) then you would have put an end to India-Pakistan problem. He remembers the former Prime Minister for his effort to solve the India-Pakistan issue," the former chief minister said.
The NC leader also recalled the way Gowda travelled in an open jeep at the India-Pakistan border. As PM, Gowda was instrumental in starting various electricity projects, which instilled a lot of confidence among the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Kumaraswamy said.
After becoming Prime Minister, Deve Gowda took initiatives to create harmony and end terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir, Kumaraswamy quoted Abdullah as saying.
"Recalling the steps taken by Deve Gowda to hold a free and fair election in Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah was of the opinion that the country could have a great future if a leader like him had continued, but we lost the opportunity," the JD(S) leader said.
Regarding the regional parties' meeting, Kumaraswamy said some people are doing circus. He said he would prefer to wait and watch where it will reach.
When asked whether JD(S) will join the front, he counter questioned, "Can we join hands with Congress? Congress is not taking us into account. If Congress is on the sky, we are on the ground. Can we even discuss with them? They have grown stronger. People have blessed them completely in Karnataka. Now people have to ground them from the sky. Don't we have to wait for them till they are grounded? Can we rise up to their heights? So we are on the ground. Let's wait."
Abdullah later called on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his cabinet colleagues.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)