The results of the Jammu and Kashmir local polls have “exposed” the BJP-led central government and prove that people have not forgotten Article 370, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today as the Gupkar alliance won big in district council elections. Ms Mufti said the alliance, which includes her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference, could have done much better had it been given a level playing field.
“People have voted en masse for the alliance. It is loud and clear for Delhi to understand that people have not forgotten, Article 370 still lives in our hearts and minds and we will fight for it until our last breath,” the former Chief Minister told NDTV.
She also declared she would not contest any election until the abrogation of Article 370 and the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir was reversed.
On the possibility of fighting future polls as part of the seven-party alliance and a potential power tussle between rivals National Conference and PDP, she said: “When it comes to assembly polls, I will not file any elections until and unless Jammu and Kashmir’s own constitution is brought back, until Article 370 is restored.” She said she could even move the International Court of Justice, if need be.
“We have been rivals, but for the larger cause of J&K, we can all get together. We are Kashmiris at the end of the day. We are not talking only about elections but for the larger cause of restoring what was lost,” Ms Mufti said.
“Whenever assembly polls are held we will sit together and discuss (on Chief Ministership). I am not in the race.”
Ms Mufti also defended her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision to partner with the BJP in 2014, an alliance that collapsed before time, leading to the PDP losing power.
“My father made a deal with the devil. Mufti Sahab did not join hands with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi but with the Prime Minister of India, to resolve the problems of Kashmir. My father tried to engage the BJP through an alliance. Our agenda was the same and we entered into the alliance on our terms. They agreed to everything, but after the government fell, they did what they wanted,” said Ms Mufti.
The Gupkar alliance, along with the Congress, has won in 13 districts in the first-ever District Development Council (DDC) polls across 20 districts in J&K. The BJP has won in six districts in Jammu.
This was the first election in the region since the centre ended special status in August last year, turned the state into two Union Territories and detained scores of political leaders, including Ms Mufti and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah.
“This is like a referendum on the scrapping of Article 370, and the BJP themselves kept harping on the subject during campaigning. So the result shows that the people of J&K have rejected that narrative. They have thereby rejected scrapping of Article 370,” said Ms Mufti, who was freed in August after more than a year in detention.
The PDP chief said there were many detentions during the elections. “I myself was detained on four occasions. I was told that I could move out only after voting starts,” she said.
She remarked that not just in Jammu and Kashmir, throughout the country the constitution was being replaced by the BJP agenda.
“They are auditing the expenditure on the mausoleum of my father. I may be arrested anytime but they cannot find anything against me… They have weaponized investigating agencies. Look at what is happening with Mamata Banerjee (Bengal). They have terrorized everyone into silence. What is happening in the country, multiply it by 100 and that is happening in Kashmir. There is a silence of graveyards here,” she said.