Baig: Mufti can forward my resignation from LS to Speaker

Sanjeev Pargal

page1-7JAMMU, Feb 1: Even as PDP-BJP were yet to enter into structured dialogue and announce Common Minimum Programme, the issue of settlement of West Pakistan refugees seems to be snowballing into major controversy with PDP Lok Sabha member from Baramulla constituency and former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig announcing that he has submitted his resignation from Parliament to party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with the request that he can forward it to Lok Sabha Speaker if his intentions were suspected.
He described Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti, PDP patron and president respectively, as the only two decision makers in the party and went on to say that if PDP and BJP can’t agree on fundamental issues, then it is better to sit in the opposition or go back to the people rather than entering into a mere power sharing agreement, which will be seen by people and judged by the history as “an act of opportunism”.
In five-page long statement released to media today, Muzaffar Baig, who had served as Finance, Planning, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister during PDP-Congress coalition Government dropped enough hints that PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir would be beneficial for people of the State and if any other alliance was more beneficial, “Mufti Sahib and Mehbooba Ji were free to exercise that option”.
“I have submitted a written communication to Mufti Sahib (PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) with the request that my letter of resignation from Parliament should be forwarded to the Speaker of Lok Sabha, if my intentions are ever suspected,” Baig said.
He said there has been a whisper campaign that he was pushing for an alliance between BJP and PDP because he would like to get some personal benefit out of it.
“I have made it clear to both the BJP emissary as well as PDP leadership that I express my views without any desire or agenda to secure any political position. I have publically stated that in my view the PDP/BJP alliance will remain stable only if there is good faith agreement on political issues of the State contained in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). I have also stated at-least three times that if Mufti and Mehbooba are convinced that alliance with any other party including Congress would be more beneficial to the State, they should be free to exercise that option,” Baig said.
Describing Mufti Sahab and Mehbooba Ji as the only two decision makers in the PDP, Baig said they should forge an alliance with BJP only out of conviction and not out of compulsion.
“If they (Mufti and Mehbooba) are convinced that such an alliance will be in interests of the State, politically and economically, they should go ahead. The political issues would necessarily involve an agreement on the process to resolve Kashmir issue in a democratic and Constitutional manner through the process of dialogue,” the PDP veteran said.
He added that if these leaders come to this conclusion then they shouldn’t be deterred by the possible threats of those people, who are opposed to very existence of the PDP.
“On the other hand, if PDP and BJP can’t agree on fundamental issues, it is better to sit in the opposition or go back to the people rather than enter into a mere power sharing agreement, which will be seen by people and judged by history as an act of opportunism. In that case, the PDP should resist any request or pressure from any quarter including the winners of the previous election (NC and Congress) to form Government in any case,” Baig said.
Referring to his stand on West Pakistan refugees, Baig said he did not specify parameters of the solution but only indicated the guidelines.
“According to me, this is a humanitarian problem and not a political problem. The refugees are already settled here and they have a right to vote for Parliament. The issue is whether they can be granted the status of permanent residents of the State. I indicated that this can be done only if Jammu and Kashmir Constitution permits it. Those who understand the Constitution of the State know that there is no provision to that effect. Secondly, I indicated that so far as the point of view of Muslims is concerned, it should be guided by the teachings of holy Quran and Sunnah, while Hindus may have their own point of view,” the PDP leader said and asked: “is there anything wrong in suggesting that Muslims should follow the tenants of their faith in finding a solution to this humanitarian problem”?
Baig said he had indicated that if refugees from Pakistan, who are already enjoying the citizenship of India are to be given status of permanent residency of the State, then wouldn’t it be possible for Bangladeshi refugees in India to claim similar status wherever they are presently settled in India.
“Am I wrong in pointing out this crucial issue for the consideration of the Government of India”? he asked.
Elaborating further on PDP-BJP alliance, Baig said he was of the view that irrespective of whether PDP forms an alliance with BJP are not, there will be those within and outside the State, who will oppose PDP.
“How can any person expect that those people, who are opposed to very existence of PDP should garland the party for whatever decisions it takes? These people will find fault with PDP even if the party were to offer to the people of the State a paradise on earth,” Baig said.
He added: “I don’t underestimate the possibility that opponents of PDP and separatist elements may create trouble whenever they get an opportunity. However, I don’t subscribe to the view that we should, in any case, surrender to such pressure tactics. The views expressed now and then by certain elements within the State stand on different footing then the views expressed by some people, who have no vested interest in political future of the State”.
Meanwhile, PDP chief spokesperson Nayeen Akhtar has termed Baig’s remarks as his personal opinion and said only the State Legislature under Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution can take decision on settlement of West Pakistan refugees.
“The statement about the settlement of West Pakistani refugees made by Baig is his personal opinions. As far as PDP is concerned, any decision on the issue can be taken only by the State Legislature and that too only under the Constitution of J&K,” Akhter said.

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