Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said the state she had ruled, now stripped of its special status and divided into two Union territories, was a "laboratory" for the ruling BJP at the Centre.
Talking to reporters here a day after the opposition meeting, Mufti voiced fear of "Kashmirisation" of the entire country if the party returned to power.
"There is, indeed, an attack on the idea of India. It was most evident when they abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and put its leaders, including three former chief ministers, in jail", said Mufti, who was the last CM of the state.
"J-K was a laboratory. What we see in Delhi today, by way of the central ordinance, started much earlier in our state. Unfortunately, few people understood it back then", alleged Mufti, who heads the People's Democratic Party.
"The BJP, if it returns to power in 2024, will trample upon the Constitution and undertake Kashmirisation of the whole country", said the vice-chairperson of the Gupkar Declaration, who had run a coalition government with the saffron party, before resigning.
On Aam Aadmi Party’s allegation that Congress “refused” to oppose the ordinance that curtails the powers of Arvind Kejriwal government, despite many parties asking it do so at the meeting, she replied, “That was never the central issue of the meeting. We all were focused on issues of the idea of India and the assaults on the Constitution”.
When reminded that AAP had voted in favour of the bill brought in Parliament that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and special status, Mufti said, “it is true that many parties opposed to the BJP then did not realise the implications of what was taking place. But I did not come holding grudges”.
To a query whether there was any consensus on restoration of Article 370 if the opposition parties together succeeded in defeating the BJP, Mufti said, “The fight is to save the Constitution. And Article 370 is a part of the Constitution. The special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir was granted by the Indian Constitution. It was not a largesse offered by China or Pakistan”.
“We must realise that Jammu and Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-dominated territory, agreed to be part of India, reposing trust in values of Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. The assembly of the state was the most powerful. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Article 370 could not be scrapped until a recommendation to the effect came from the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. But the BJP bulldozed everything”, she said.
Asked about the long history of sectarian violence in Jammu and Kashmir, she shot back “why do you not talk about Manipur where 200 people have died in the current spate of ethnic strife? Just because it is ruled by BJP?”
To a query whether the issue of who would be the opposition’s “face” was discussed at the meeting, Mufti said, “Where is the need? The parties which attended the meeting had together polled more than 60 per cent of votes in the last Lok Sabha polls”.
Taking potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said “It must be realised that the warm reception he gets during his visits abroad is because of the respect India enjoys as a soft power which it owes to the Constitution”.
Asked about former US President Barack Obama flagging concerns over the state of religious tolerance in India, she said, “it is natural for people to speak of these things when the news travels far and wide”.
She also remarked, “There is talk of India becoming a Vishwaguru. At present, we are taking the lead in inflation and unemployment only”.
Mufti thanked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for taking the initiative for the opposition conclave and disclosed that she thoroughly enjoyed her trip and took time off to visit places like Bodh Gaya, Takht Harmandir Patna Sahib and tomb of the last Muslim ruler of Kashmir Yousuf Shah Chak in Nalanda.
The PDP leader, who met RJD supremo Lalu Prasad at his residence on Friday night, also recalled the close friendship he had with her late father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and the admiration she felt for his dogged stance against the BJP.
-With PTI Input