Everyone Is On Board, Will Meet PM And Make Pact Public: Mufti

23 February 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: After over two months of ups and downs in negotiations with the BJP over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed declared on Monday that 'everyone is on board' and that the government may be in place any time from now. 'First (PDP president) Mehbooba Mufti will be meeting (BJP) president Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday where they would discuss some of the issues and after that I would be meeting Prime Minister and make the Common Minimum Programme in public', Mufti Sayeed told The Tribune on Monday. His meeting with the Prime Minister was scheduled for Tuesday but it has been postponed by a couple of days. The new date would be known soon. He replied to a host of questions on his agenda and how the talks were conducted over the past two months and what would be his stand vis-à-vis Hurriyat Conference, mainstream opposition and the 'issues confronting the state'. On his insistence on protection of Article 370 and revocation of AFSPA, the two major contentious issues, he said everything has been taken care of. But there is something which needed to be sorted out. That would be done soon. And, when I meet Prime Minister, I just want to have a pleasant meeting. Significantly, Mufti Sayeed said the 1975 Indira-Sheikh Accord, which he had earlier described as a sell-out by Sheikh Abdullah was the 'greatest contribution of Indira Gandhi in bringing Sheikh Abdullah on board'. 'She was very angry when Sheikh Abdullah was re-arrested in 1960s. She had wanted him to bring on board. 'Sheikh Abdullah was a great leader and an administrator. He delivered good governance. Indiraji could have given something more than restricting herself to the phrase that the needles of the clock cannot be turned back. That would have been really great,' said Mufti. About the government formation, he said it would be a de jure the greatest government. 'There was a lot of (surface and air) connectivity between Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region, but the connectivity of hearts and minds of the people of the two regions is yet to be achieved. Our effort is to have inter-connectivity between the people, which has been missing since 1947. He said the 2002 experiment when he first became the Chief Minister did not work out because the Congress did not rise to the occasion. 'It was a tragedy that they believed in disruptions in the Cabinet meetings instead of bringing Jammu and the Valley closer. ' The 2008 land row agitation was a tragedy that was enacted by Ghulam Nabi Azad by transferring the land to Shri Amarnath Shrine board by the then Governor Lt. Gen (Retd) S K Sinha. Now, he wants an 'all-inclusive approach. If we can insist on the talks with the Hurriyat Conference, who didn't believe in the electoral process, we are certainly going to involve everyone'. 'Dialogue with Pakistan is important for the peace in the state. We are directly affected. Let me remind you what Vajpayee and then subsequently Manmohan Singh said that we can change our friends but not neighbours. What would have happened if some of our candidates were killed. We want peace in the Valley and borders. We are directly affected. Peace is paramount for us', he said. Mufti admitted that Omar had sent a person offering him support of his party and also that Azad had mooted the idea of a grand alliance, but my question to myself was 'grand alliance against whom, Jammu'. That was unacceptable to him. Mufti Sayeed (79), who started his political career in 1960s and has seen many trials and tribulations, is now all set to become the Chief Minister for a second time. He knows that his alliance with the right-wing BJP would face some resistance in Kashmir where a section is against the saffron party. But Mufti is confident that he would turn this challenge into an opportunity by bridging the gap between the 'People of Jammu region and Kashmir Valley. That's the legacy I want to leave behind'. He reiterated that he was not interested in chair but in doing something to bring out the real miniature of India in Jammu and Kashmir. Since 1947, relations between the two regions have not been healthy, there is mutual distrust, which he wants to convert into 'mutual trust'. 'If you ask me that this is a great opportunity for India' and that is what he thinks would help him in doing what he has in mind. 'Kashmir offers an opportunity to India to reach out to the people in Kashmir and also Pakistan as it had done when Atal Behari Vajpayee extended hand of friendship to Pakistan, overwhelmed by the waves of enthusiastic crowds in April 2003'. Modi, he said, can do that because he has got clear mandate from the people of the country. The only other precedent was when Rajiv Gandhi swept 1984 parliamentary polls with a large majority. The Prime Minister has an opportunity in hand.