Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday that while the “general impression” about BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is that he is “divisive”, a section of people feels that he will be able to take “certain tough decisions… maybe positive ones” (on the Kashmir issue).
“Modi has a mixed response (in the Valley). Some people don’t like him, mainly because J&K is a Muslim majority state — not that there haven’t been communal riots before Gujarat. Riots have taken place before Gujarat riots and after that too — in Assam and more recently in Muzaffarnagar. But when it comes to Gujarat, people saw the pictures and can’t forget them,” she said, speaking at the Idea Exchange programme at The Indian Express.
“But there is another section of people which probably thinks that maybe Modi is the one who will have such authority that he will be able to take certain tough decisions (regarding Kashmir issue). Decisions like Vajpayee took. Otherwise no other prime minister has ever taken any tough decision. When militancy was at its peak, he (Vajpayee) went to Lahore on the bus yatra. The same day, seven Hindu boys were killed… Even after Kargil, he invited the Pakistan President. And then Parliament (attack) happened,” recalled Mufti.
“I think people have this impression that if Modi comes, he may be able to take certain tough decisions, maybe positive ones, because he did say at a rally in Jammu that he was going to follow Vajpayee’s policies. But this impression is not shared by everybody, just a section. The general impression is that he is divisive,” she said.
On the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Mufti said, “Even the Kashmir Valley is celebrating this change of people who are not conventional politicians winning. Basically, in the Valley, the mainstream national parties are seen as untouchable because, firstly, they are seen as bad, and secondly, they are seen as being connected to Delhi. So, I think this example of AAP may make people change their mind… People may start believing that it (politics) is not so bad, it can have a positive impact too.”
She said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had the opportunity to be at the forefront of the anti-corruption movement, but he squandered the opportunity.
“I personally think Rahul and this young brigade should have been at the forefront of this anti-corruption movement that we are witnessing for the last four-five years. He did have the opportunity. Due to economic reforms, everybody knew that that the biggest issue would be that in order to take benefit of the reforms, there would be a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the corporates. In such a situation, I think, Rahul, since he is the leader of such a big party and because everybody should have woken up by the time UPA-II came to power, should have been doing what Anna Hazare… was doing. No offence to anyone, but I don’t think you can have a Sheila ki jawani-type item number when the film is flopping. When the entire film is bad, one song will not save the film,” she said.
Asked if her reference was to Rahul when she talked about an ‘item number’, she laughed. “Basically, what I am trying to say is that you can’t have these gaps. When you are under pressure, you talk of tearing the ordinance (on allowing convicted MPs to retain their Parliament membership). When there is more pressure, you talk of Lokpal. You have to be consistent and constant. When things are going wrong all around you, you can’t expect that one sentence from you will change everything. People stop taking you seriously then. The young brigade in the Congress had such a huge opportunity. But they didn’t utilise it properly,” she said.