Srinagar | Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) chief Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said he sees no benefit coming out of "opposition unity" ahead of the 2024 Lak Sabha polls.
Asked about a meeting of opposition parties called by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Azad said he has not been invited to it.
"Opposition unity will benefit only when there is something for both sides. There may be a difference in the share of benefits for the two -- it can be 50-50 or 60-40 -- but in this case, both sides have nothing to offer to the other," he said.
Referring to West Bengal, Azad pointed out that the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have no MLA in the state and wondered that just in case the two parties forge an alliance with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), what does the latter stand to gain? "Why would Banerjee enter into an alliance? What benefit will she get out of it? Similarly, the TMC has no MLA in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. What would the Congress give her in these states? Nothing," he said.
Similarly, the Congress does not have a single legislator in Andhra Pradesh, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister pointed out, adding that the ruling YSRCP in the southern state, led by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, has no MLA anywhere else.
"What will the Congress give to him (Reddy) and what will he give to the Congress party?" he wondered while asserting that "opposition unity" is nothing but a "good photo opportunity".
The former Union minister, however, clarified that he wants the opposition to unite to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in next year's general election.
"But unfortunately, each opposition party has nothing in other states than their own. It would have been beneficial if two-three parties had formed governments (in an alliance) in the states.
"There will be no difference whether there is a pre-poll or a post-poll alliance. They will get the same number of seats in a pre-poll alliance as well as in a post-poll alliance. I see higher chances of an alliance in the post-election scenario," he said.
The ground situation is such that if the opposition parties win 300 seats in a pre-poll alliance, they would get the same number of seats even if there was no alliance, the former Congress leader added.
He credited the leadership of the Congress in various states for the party's recent electoral triumphs.
"I have said the Congress has suffered losses at the Centre, not in the states. Wherever there is a strong state leadership, the party is bouncing back. The only difference is that previously, the central leadership used to run the states and now, the state leadership runs the central leadership.
"The central leadership has lost ground, but the state leaders are defending their turf. So, there is zero truth if someone says the Congress is winning the state elections because of the central leadership," Azad said.
He demanded compensation for the losses incurred due to an earthquake in Doda district of the Jammu region.
"We have information that in Gundoh and Bhaderwah tehsils, some schools, hospitals and houses have suffered damage. It is a matter of concern. We hope that there are no more tremors.
"I request the government to organise classes for the students outside and not inside the school buildings. Similarly, at hospitals, patients in a critical condition should be placed where there has been no impact of the quake," Azad said.