Vajpayee era wasn’t repeated by Modi regime: Mehbooba

No discrimination with Jammu, Ladakh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 30: PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today that her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed braved “hate, anger and pain’’ of Kashmiris for 10 months and she had to bear it for two years and two months by entering into an alliance with the BJP as the experience of Vajpayee era on the basis of which the PDP entered into alliance with the BJP to form the Government, wasn’t repeated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure.

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Addressing a function on PDP’s 19th foundation day here, Mehbooba said Mufti had entered into alliance with the BJP based on the experience of Atal Bihari Vajpayee though in that era the PDP was in power with the Congress but admitted that she had to fight on twin fronts after assuming the chair—first in the Kashmir Valley where situation continued to deteriorate and second in New Delhi, where she visited frequently for implementation of ‘Agenda of Alliance’, reached between the PDP and BJP.
“Mufti Ji told us that there was no option but to go with the BJP at it was during Vajpayee era that talks were initiated with Pakistan. He asked us that you can go with Congress or National Conference but I want to become the Chief Minister not for ‘bijli, sadak or paani’ (electricity, roads and water) but for bringing Jammu and Kashmir out of crisis and the BJP has mandate to do this,’’ she recalled the conversation late Mufti had with her before opting for alliance with BJP.
But, Mehbooba regretted, what happened in Jammu and Kashmir during Vajpayee era wasn’t repeated in Narendra Modi regime though she continued to approach New Delhi repeatedly for initiating talks with Pakistan, people of Jammu and Kashmir and implementation of Agenda of Alliance while fighting with deteriorating situation in Kashmir.
“The decision (to tie up with the BJP) was like drinking poison for us. It generated hate and anger against us in Kashmir, which Mufti Saheb had to face for 10 months and I suffered the same for two years and two months,’’ Mehbooba said in reference to 10 months tenure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the Chief Minister and two years and two months tenure of her own as Mufti’s successor.
Mehbooba recalled that she made no compromise with “roadmap and vision’’ of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and kept making all out efforts to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of the crisis but it (the tenure of Narendra Modi) was not like that (Atal Bihari Vajpayee).
Showering praises on Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she said it was war like situation on the border when troops of India and Pakistan were in an “eyeball to eyeball position’’ but Vajpayee offered hand of friendship to Pakistan and went Lahore. “Vajpayee forced then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to State that Pakistan will not support terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir,’’ she recalled.
Recalling holding of free and fair elections by Vajpayee in 2002, Mehbooba said Mufti Sayeed met Vajpayee and told him about apprehensions in the minds of Kashmiri people that Governments in Jammu and Kashmir are decided by the New Delhi.
“This prompted Vajpayee to make a statement from ramparts of Red Fort that there will be free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir and despite the fact that National Conference was partner in the then NDA Government headed by Vajpayee with Omar Abdullah a Union Minister, the PDP-Congress Government was formed in Jammu and Kashmir,’’ Mehbooba said.
Mehbooba referred to the growth of the PDP in just 19 years saying it won one seat in 1999 and then jumped to 16 in 2002, 21 in 2008 and 28 in 2014.
“When Mufti Sahib left the chair and Vajpayee too, lost the power, the next Government was formed and the peace initiative received a set back with everything coming to a standstill,” she maintained.
Strongly rejecting the allegations of discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh regions during her three year regime as projected by BJP national president Amit Shah during a rally in Jammu recently, Mehbooba claimed that she never considered Jammu and Kashmir different entities and distributed the funds equally among them. She dismissed the allegations even pertaining to recruitment and allotment of seats in the professional institutions.
Meanwhile, the PDP function witnessed tense moments when Mehbooba, apparently feeling uncomfortable, stopped her nearly 18-minute speech midway and sat back on her chair. She, however, resumed her address shortly from the chair, explaining that she felt uncomfortable due to the hot and humid weather conditions of Jammu.
She said the agenda of alliance included talks with Pakistan and Kashmiris, besides the return of power projects (to the State) and maintaining status quo on the Article 370 which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. She said Article 370 serves as a bridge between the Centre and the State and if it is diluted the things would turn adverse.
She added her father made the BJP understand that the Article 370 is a bridge between Kashmir and the rest of the country and if it was revoked, “you will be finished.”
“I never considered Jammu and Kashmir as different entities and distributed funds, colleges and jobs in police and other Government departments equally without any corruption. I made no compromise,” she maintained.
Referring to senior BJP leader and former Minister Lal Singh’s allegations that she “deliberately handled Kathua rape and murder case to create a division between Hindus and Muslims in Jammu”, Mehbooba said the rapists have no religion.
“It  has nothing to do with the Dogras. A Dogra ruler had forbidden a king from visiting Jammu and Kashmir after he came to know that he had passed a cheap remarks against a local girl. This is the pride of the Dogras,” she asserted.
While defending her Government’s decision not to harass the Gujjars, she said after the BJP objected to the implementation of the Forest Act in the Cabinet meeting, a committee was constituted to sort out the issue. ” I directed the Tribal Affairs department not to harass the Gujjars, unless a new Forest Policy is formulated.”