SRINAGAR Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said fractured mandate in the 2014 Assembly elections forced her party to forge an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and described the alliance as akin to taking a glass of poison and jumping into fire.
Referring to leaders who have recently quit her party, Mehbooba said educated youth who have an interest in resolving Kashmir issue should join PDP as the garbage is now out from her party.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function on the third death anniversary of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Mehbooba said: After the death of my father (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) I was not ready to form government with BJP. I put some conditions, including return of power projects, vacating of Tattu ground, Anatnag high ground and Kargil ground (by army). These people (deserters) went to Nagpur (headquarters of RSS) where they told them to leave Mehbooba Mufti aside as they are ready to form the government with them.
My position was weakened as the BJP which was ready to concede to demands, she said.
Pertinently a number of PDP leaders revolted against Mehbooba Muftis leadership immediately after her government fell, accusing her of nepotism and favouritism.
Prominent among those who openly rebelled against the PDP were former finance minister Haseeb Drabu, former law minister Basharat Bukhari, former ministers Javed Mustafa Mir, Imran Ansari and his uncle Abid Ansari, former MLAs Mohammad Abbas Wani and Peer Mohammad Hussain.
Earlier addressing her party workers at Bijbehara in South Kashmir, she said that her father didnt enter into the alliance with the BJP to become Chief Minister. She insisted that her father had hoped that the alliance between the two parties would lead to dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
She said when her PDP was established in 1999, the party had made it clear that without talking to Pakistan no solution of Kashmir issue is possible. It was the time when some politicians here would say that Pakistani Kashmir should be bombed but we advocated for the dialogue, she said.
Mehbooba said it was for the same purpose that her party allied with the BJP in 2015. She said the PDP wanted to get people out of fire they were in through the alliance with the BJP. However, she said the alliance didn't work out.
APLOGY OVER TOFEE COMMENT
Mehbooba Mufti also apologised for her comment during the height of 2016 uprising ridiculing the young boys who had been killed by army and police firing.
If my comments, as a mother, have agonised mothers, sisters and brothers, I apologise. I am being criticised that I have said toffee etc but I said it as a mother. Mothers get angry when her kids don't listen to her, Mehbooba said while referring to her August 25, 2016, comment about the protesters.
Her toffee and milk comments had evoked widespread condemnation in the Valley.
On that day, while addressing press conference along with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at her Fairview Residence Mehbooba had said that only five per cent people in Kashmir were involved in the violence and they will be dealt under the law. She had also said these five-per cent have made lives of 95 per cent, who want Kashmirs solution through peaceful means, a hell.
She had said "did a child to go to buy a toffee from the army camp, was 15-year-old boy fetching milk when he attacked a police station in Damhal Hanji Pora," thus justifying the response of the government forces against protesters, which had led to the killing of nearly 90 persons that year.
A mass uprising erupted in Kashmir in 2016 after the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffer Wani.
Mehbooba said in two years and two months she could only work for two months. She, however, took credit of the development works including construction of the Highway between south Kashmir and Srinagar which has reduced distance and also coming up of the medical colleges in South and north Kashmir.
VISIT TO MILITANT HOMES
On criticism for her visit to homes of militants, Mehbooba said she had not gone on her own but was invited by people in distress and that her doors are open for all Kashmiris who are in trouble.
"I did not go on my own, I went because I was called by these people. If anyone has problem with my such visits, I will not go but doors of Mehbooba Mufti are open for all Kashmiris who are in trouble or facing any problems," Mehbooba said addressing party workers.
She said two former chief ministers -- Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference (NC) -- live on the same road where she lives and yet the people in distress choose to meet her.
"A few days ago, some people from a family came to me. Where I live (in Srinagar), two other former chief ministers also live -- Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. They did not go to them but to me. What can I do? They told me that one of their wards is a militant but security forces have arrested his sister, brother-in-law and another brother. I assured them that I will speak to the DGP about it.
"But I also thought what will happen to other people (suffering the same fate). They said you should visit our home and it will send a message to entire Kashmir. Otherwise, which former chief minister will go from village to village," she said.
"I do not want anyone to outrage the modesty of my sisters and daughters. I went there and two people were released. The Governor ordered an inquiry into the matter to ascertain whether any excesses had been committed. Then Safanagari people heard about it and they called me. They told me that their militant son has been killed but the security forces have arrested his brother now," she said.
CASES AGAINST GUILTY ARMY PERSONNEL
On the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Mehbooba said she did not compromise and did not hand the case over to the CBI.
"I did not compromise on Kathua case. I got two (BJP) ministers dropped and did not hand the case over to CBI as I had apprehensions that it (Kathua case) will meet the same fate as the Shopian case (alleged rape and murder of two women in 2009)," she said.
Mehbooba said she had FIRs registered against the Army and government forces wherever they erred and that the "BJP could not bear it".
"Had I compromised on these issues, this government would have lasted full six years," she said.
Mehbooba said she would have relinquished power long ago but wanted to fulfil the promises made to the people and her party workers.
"When I have workers like you, I do not need anything. I would have kicked the chair long ago but I remained patient for you. I wanted a proper livelihood for you. It should not be like you will sweep the hospitals and there is no salary to be paid. I wanted it such that whether I remain in office or not, you should get salaries," she added.
The PDP president said she repeatedly told the Prime Minister that the situation in Kashmir will not improve unless the Centre holds dialogue with Pakistan and separatists.
"I convinced the Union Home Minister on this and he stated this in Parliament a few days ago. The Home Minister said he was ready for unconditional talks with Hurriyat Conference. What else could I have done? We can only take a horse to the water but we cannot force it to drink," she said.
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