Mehbooba Mufti : PM Modi ‘man of the moment’ but ‘India is Indira Gandhi’ for me: Strains appear in PDP-BJP alliance?

 

“Prime Minister Modi has the potential to become the man of history and his leadership is an asset which needs to be harnessed. Our hopes are pinned on him to work together and bring Kashmir out of the mess,” said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister  Mehbooba Mufti.

Mufti was all praises for ‘the man of the moment’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  who, she believes, can be the true harbinger of peace and stability in The Valley.

However Mufti hailed former prime minister  Indira Gandhi as the ideal representative of the  India that she envisions, Mufti  said  ‘India is Indira Gandhi’ for her.

Addressing an event in Kashmir, Mufti referred to Sangh Parivar’s dislike for the Nehru-Gandhi family and said, “To me, India is Indira Gandhi. When I was growing, she represented India for me. Maybe some people won’t like it but she was the India.”

Using her party’s 18th raising day rally to send across a rare and stern message to the Centre, Mehbooba also warned that her government would not allow any move to close cross-LoC trade and the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road link. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is reported to have recommended the closure of cross-LoC trade.

The PDP rally, one of the biggest rallies in the city after last year’s unrest, was a show of strength. It was attended by party workers from across the Valley, including South Kashmir, a region which has seen turmoil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last July.

Speaking at an event in New Delhi on Friday, Mehbooba had described the arrests of separatist leaders as “administrative measures”, adding that “administrative measures only contain the issue, they do not resolve it.”

Days after the arrests of separatist leaders in Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned against any tinkering with Article 35(A) of the constitution that is being debated in the Supreme Court, which empowers the state legislature to define permanent residents and accord special rights and privileges to them.

Mufti said that any change in its status would invite repercussions and mean that nobody would be able to protect the Indian national flag in the state.

Signalling, almost bordering to differences with ally BJP and its government at the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday criticised the recent arrests of separatist leaders, saying, “You cannot kill an idea. You cannot jail an idea”. 

Strongly opposing any move to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status, she said some people were talking “about our flag, sometimes about Article 370… which are very dear to the people of the state and they help preserve the state’s unique identity”. Mufti said the government of India and the people of the country needed to do more to accommodate the aspirations of Kashmiris even as the sentiment of ‘azadi’ needed to be replaced with a “better idea”.

Mufti also warned that her government would not allow any move to close cross-LoC trade and the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road link. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is reported to have recommended the closure of cross-LoC trade.

Saddened by the portrayal of Kashmir and India as separate identities by the media, Mufti highlighted that the country is being misrepresented, adding that the society should be more welcoming to the idea of Kashmir and its natives.

“Kashmir is a mini India within India.We are a diverse state with all kinds of multi-diversity of religion and everything. Opposing religious divide, the state had aligned to a more secular and accommodative India where Hindus and Muslims pray together at a shrine and statues of Hindu gods are being made by Muslim artisans,” she said, urging that the sentiment of ‘azadi’ needs to be replaced with a better idea.

Meanwhile Expressing shock and surprise over its ally and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s flag remarks, the BJP on Saturday asserted that Article 35A of the Constitution which grants special status to the state is “not a sacred cow that cannot be touched”.

The BJP that shares power in J&K with Mehbooba’s PDP reacted strongly by asserting that her statement on Article 35A does not depict true picture and is politically incorrect. The Constitutional provision deprives women of J&K of their fundamental rights and nationalism cannot be tagged with the Article 35A.

“We are greatly shocked and surprised by the statement of Mehbooba that by challenging Article 35A, the nationalist forces in the Valley get weakened and that…India will not get a shoulder to carry its national flag in the state”, old reporters.

The state unit of the BJP said that while the party stands by the agenda of alliance with the PDP and won’t seek alteration of existing constitutional position, “it is equally true that Article 35A has done more harm to the state than any other provision of law.”

“The majority of the population in Jammu and Kashmir is nationalist and committed to upholding the integrity of the country and believes that their interests and aspirations are safe as Indians,” Gupta said.

He said that Kashmir is facing a serious danger from the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and referred to the “unimaginabBJP state spokesperson Virender Gupta tle disaster” unleashed by these forces in Syria, Iraq and some of the other countries.

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