Crucial PDP meet debates alliance with BJP, to go ahead with core agenda

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Apr 14: Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said today that the PDP will not compromise with its “core agenda’’ and will do everything to win trust of the people even as she asked the party leaders to initiate “internal dialogue’’ by being accessible to the people.
Mehbooba did some plain speaking at the meeting of PDP Legislature Party and senior party leaders at her official Gupkar Road residence this afternoon, which was given a miss by Dr Haseeb Drabu, who was unceremoniously removed as the Finance Minister last month over his remarks on Kashmir situation.
Insiders in the PDP told the Excelsior that Mehbooba called for even PDP-BJP dialogue at regular intervals as both the parties were coalition partners.
“We may be criticizing our Alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not initiating dialogue but at the same time we are not even talking to each other,’’ Mehbooba is reported to have said, adding that the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended hand of friendship to Pakistan (by visiting the neighbouring country) showed that the Union Government wanted peaceful relations with the neighbour but what happened thereafter is known to all, a reference towards Pathankot terror attack.
Calling upon the party leaders including the legislators to maintain close liaison with the people, Mehbooba told them that they should open dialogue with the people by remaining accessible to them. She directed the party Ministers, Legislators and senior leaders to remain present at least in their respective district headquarters no matter how the situation develops.
“The PDP will not compromise with its ‘core agenda’ and do everything to win trust of the people. While the BJP has to be persuaded to talk to stakeholders, there was also a need to ensure that there was positive response to the offer,’’ the Chief Minister said in her address to the senior party leaders.
According to sources, some of the PDP legislators took the party Ministers to task for not reaching out to the party cadre. They lamented that the legislators were being ignored.
Insiders said Mehbooba’s brother and Tourism Minister, Tassaduq Mufti was critical on how things are being dealt with. He said that killing of civilians was being attributed to the situation.
“If we can’t even protect and talk to our own children, what we are doing here’’?, Tassaduq asked.
Senior PDP leader and party’s lone Lok Sabha member, Muzaffar Hussain Baig narrated how Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Pakistan personally and tried to establish peaceful relations with the neighbouring country. He said the Central Government is desirous to extend political outreach but the situation was not permitting.
On rape and killing of minor girl at village Rassana in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district, the Chief Minister said it should serve an eye opener for all including the PDP and BJP. She said the things may not be conducive but the way nation supported her stand on the little girl showed that all is not lost.
However, Mehbooba said there was need for the nation to take cognizance of the pain of people in similar way, which will boost confidence of the people.
Insiders said some of the speakers were critical of PDP’s continued alliance with the BJP saying the party was losing ground due to persistent stand of BJP over Kashmir and failure to curb the civilian killings.
Meanwhile,  Mehbooba called for urgent, understanding and empathetic view of the prevailing situation in the State to put a permanent end to the repeated cycles of violence.
Mehbooba said: “Our youth are getting marooned in their own blood leaving behind wailing mothers and tormented sisters, the future of our children is at stake, our education is getting ruined, our economy is being decimated and it is our collective responsibility to ponder over how to pull Kashmir out of this grim situation.”
The Chief Minister said that even those who will be having differing political ideologies have to realize that violence can’t be a solution as it has brought and is only bringing destruction and miseries for the people.
Mehbooba said that the civil society and the people in Kashmir have to realize that while everybody wants a dignified solution of the problems confronting the State, we will have to rise together against the culture of senseless violence being played out with bloodletting which is not only devouring the lives of youth but destroying every sphere of life in Kashmir.
She said Kashmir has already seen almost a generation of youth falling prey to the repeated cycles of violence as the present situation in the State did not arise overnight. “Kashmir cauldron has been simmering for long and it is the direct result of a callous attitude and apathy towards the basic political urges and aspirations of the people,” she said and added that the youth here gave enough indications of their anger and discontent over the past several years even while they several times gave a chance for democracy to play itself out. “But unfortunately, signals were repeatedly ignored with the country’s political leadership having either run out of ideas or seems to have reached a dead end,” she said and added that the democratic polity of India must respond to this challenge before the political and humanitarian crisis in Kashmir degenerates into a bigger chaos.
“There is enough political space and intellectual ingenuity in our system and I hope the country’s leadership cutting across the party barriers responds to this challenge and comes up with a political initiative that is purposeful, sincere, sustained and result-oriented,” she said and added that the governance initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir would be productive only when these are complemented by enabling political and economic measures aimed at addressing complex challenges confronting the State.
Mehbooba said while the ultimate solution to the momentous challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir shall have to be worked out both on internal and external fronts through a sustained process of engagement, what is needed urgently in Kashmir is that elements of sanity, common sense and pragmatism shall have to be picked up in light of the global and sub-continental realities and make use of political and democratic means to voice our concerns.
“That the results are not difficult to achieve, was successfully illustrated by the post 2002 political history of the State when an elected government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed facilitated a series of Confidence Building Measures leading to a perceptible turnaround in the situation,” she said and added that the combination of political, developmental and diplomatic approach after 2002 elections changed the atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir as well the world around it almost unrecognizably.
Chief Minister said the time has come to again start on the road to resolution and the process shall have to be clear of conditions. “It will have to accommodate those voices also that don’t accept the status quo. It will have to steer clear of past mistakes. It will have to come over suspicions and mistrust. It will have to be today, for tomorrow may be too late,” she said.
Mehbooba said the people of the State, irrespective of their age, gender, status or the political affiliation, have been suffering the disastrous consequences of the political uncertainties plaguing the State. “Time has come to fully retrieve the people of the State from the morass, with their honor and dignity intact, through a series of Confidence Building Measures,” she said and added that the state’s youth need extraordinary attention as they have been particularly and enormously affected by the negative consequences of the conflict and economic deprivation.
She said it is time for the entire political class of the country to take note of a great tragedy that has unfolded in the State. “There is no scope for delaying any further a meaningful and bold response to what has now developed into a moral, political and humanitarian challenge for this billion plus nation,” she said and added that more we delay the resolution the more it gets complex and painful.
The Chief Minister lauded the political leadership, the judiciary, the media and the civil society for standing with the State Government to ensure justice in horrible case of minor’s rape and murder.
She said the unflinching resolve for ensuring justice in this heinous crime would go a long way in restoring people’s confidence in the institutions and reinforcing the sense of justice in the State.
Mehbooba said: “The essence of India’s democracy lies in its robust institutions and it has been once again established that these institutions have the grit to ensure justice with all sections of the society cutting across the divide.”
The Chief Minister commended the role of the people of Jammu for having discounted the divisive agenda of the rabid fringe elements and coming out with unwavering support for the little girl.  “It has strengthened my belief that Jammu serves as a model of inclusiveness and together the people of J&K inspire secular unity and righteousness,” she said and added that this serves as a cue that the people of Jammu and Kashmir can hold a beacon of hope for the whole country amid harshly polarized discourse.
In the meantime, Mehbooba has  requested Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for setting up of a special fast track Court to try the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. She has written letter to CJ of the State requesting for establishment of the special fast track court for the case which would complete trial in 90 days and would be the first such court in State.
PDP leader and Works Minister, Naeem Akhtar today while briefing the media about the meeting of the PDP legislators and leaders in Srinagar said: “We took a review of the situation, of what we have gained or lost in the last three years of the alliance with the BJP – the aim of which was to improve the situation in J-K and change the narrative here by resolving the problems and difficulties of the people as well take towards reconciliation and resolution.”
He said that the party leaders discussion the situation of the State during the meeting. “We also discussed the present situation in Kashmir due to civilian killings as well as the Kathua case. The way all the citizens of the country came together thinking of her as their own daughter and raised their voice, the way they helped uphold the credibility of the state’s investigation, which was being questioned, we thought the party will fail its duty if we do not express our gratitude to the people of our great country”, Akhtar said.
“We expect the same attitude of the people of the country irrespective of the party and ideological affiliations, on our other wounds, like the restlessness in our youth, their unemployment, political issues -all those will be viewed with an humanitarian angle and the entire country will come together and try to cooperate the government, the civil society, to heal our wounds”, he added.
Akhtar said that the party wants the emotional bond created between State and the rest of the country over the issue of rape of minor to be strengthened. “Our party wants that the emotional bond created between J-K and the country because of the eight-year old, the way the country identified with us, we want that bond to grow stronger. If the people of the country understand that the people of Kashmir are no ghosts, neither are their enemies but rather are their own people, I think we can take this process of reconciliation forward”, he added.
He said that the party leaders appreciated the alliance partner its the support in taking resignation of two Ministers. “We appreciate our alliance partner, the PM, the HM, Ram Madhav and Amit Shah for their support and role and taking resignation of the two Ministers about whom the media said that their role was not positive, I think this is also a confidence building measure and if the BJP and the PDP resolve their issues in the same manner, then I feel there is no substitute of this alliance”, he added.
On fast track court for bringing the perpetrators of rape and murder of Asifa to justice, Akhtar said: “We will see that. That is an administrative matter and I cannot comment on that, but we will try to give justice to her as soon as possible and take stringent action against the perpetrators”, he said
On shifting of case from Kathua, Akhtar said: “The case is being monitored by the Kashmir High Court. Whenever it is felt, the State government along with the Court, will take whatever steps are needed to provide uninterrupted and unobstructed justice. Secondly, we also appreciate the way the investigation has been conducted.”
On Tassaduq Mufti’s statement about PDP’s alliance with BJP, the PDP leader said: “Whatever he has said represents an emotion, in fact that represents the pain of this place. The treatment of that pain is that the entire country should – because we have gone to this country voluntarily, we have acceded because of its democracy and pluralism, we expect the people of this country to reach out in the same way as in this case and join us in our other pains”.
“People should support in addressing the pain of J-K, they should support the people here irrespective of the government in Delhi or in the state. We feel that till the people of country do not understand our humanitarian problems, our pains and wounds, it (resolution of problems) will not happen. We expect the entire country is with us”, he added.


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