Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that she and her party suffered significantly from the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was broken abruptly in June following three turbulent years in power.
“Of course, I did,” Mufti remarked when asked if the alliance’s collapse left her and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the bigger losers. “We had to bear the wrath of the people. The love and affection they showered on me when I was in the Opposition turned into anger and hatred after we partnered with the BJP,” she told Hindustan Times in an interview.
The alliance between the PDP and the BJP was forged in March 2015 after the state elections threw up a fractured result, with Mufti’s father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed leading the initiative. Sayeed died in January, 2016, months before the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhaan Wani set off a cycle of violence that claimed the lives of at least 100 civilians.
Mufti, 59, said that the BJP lacked the vision of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was credited for an outreach to Kashmiris in the late ‘90s and the early 2000s. “Perhaps we overestimated things. We were so much in awe of the Vajpayee era and felt things will be the same under (PM Narendra) Modi. That didn’t happen because the BJP’s thought process was different,” she said.
On the topic of secularism and if she saw a rise in communal friction, Mufti said she had “full faith in the DNA of India”. “I don’t think it will allow any party to succeed in its designs (of communalism). You will see that in 2019. If any party fights the election on the basis of religion, it will not succeed.”
The PDP leader rejected criticism that her party was sharing an approach with Kashmiri separatists in opposing the upcoming panchayat elections, saying: “They don’t believe in the Indian Constitution. Only mainstream parties do. We swear by it and hold the Indian flag high.”
The PDP as well as arch-rival National Conference said they will boycott local polls over the issue of Article 35A, which has been challenged in the SC. The constitutional provision lays down curbs on what people from outside J&K can do in the state, such as not buy property or apply for government jobs.