Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday defended her party’s alliance with the BJP after the last assembly elections, saying till the time the parties were in coalition together, she did not allow the BJP to do away with Article 370 of the Constitution.
She also suggested that the ruling party should try to win hearts rather than using “threats and sticks” to silence the people.
The former Chief Minister alleged that the BJP is disempowering the public of even the little rights which have been left with them after abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union territories in August 2019.
“People are troubled everywhere, whether it is Jammu or Kashmir… all the matters are run by the power of stick,” Ms Mehbooba told reporters at Haveli in the border district of Poonch in Jammu region.
She has held a series of meetings with party workers at Dak Banglow and Haveli on the second day of her Poonch tour. Several prominent people, including a group of lawyers, were present there.
“All the good work of the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led government is being undone. The cross-LoC Poonch-Rawalakot trade was stopped leaving many jobless, minor minerals and jobs have been opened to outsiders, and contractors from outside are taking away the big projects,” she claimed.
“You (BJP) have to win the hearts of people and cannot threaten them into silence and to fall in line,” she said, adding that whatever they did in August, 2019 was wrong and they did it with the sole motive of winning elections in the country.
Asked about her stand on the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, she said, “Elections are not my objective but polls are a democratic weapon to fight for the rights of the people and address their problems. We will come out with our decision when they will announce the polls (in J&K).”
She said the PDP stood like a wall before the BJP and tied its hands after stitching an alliance with the party to save Article 370 from any harm.
“Till I had an alliance with the BJP, I did not allow them to do away with Article 370. We stood before them like a wall,” Ms Mehbooba said, referring to the PDP-BJP government in 2015 and 2018 which ended with the saffron party walking out of the alliance.
She said her party stitched the alliance with the BJP for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to safeguard Article 370.
“We signed the agenda of alliance and tied their hands so that there is no harm to Article 370 but after the fall of the government they abrogated the special status guaranteed to J&K by the Constitution,” Ms Mehbooba said.
The former chief minister said the BJP is claiming that the situation has become normal after the abrogation of Article 370 and they are taking various delegations to different places to prove their claim but the reality is that the situation is far from normal.
“When Mehbooba wants to go somewhere, she is told that the situation is not favourable. Covid protocols are only for us to follow,” she said.
Stating that unemployment at 18.5 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir is the highest in the country, Ms Mehbooba said the BJP claimed that Article 370 was an obstacle in providing jobs to the local youth and the party had promised them 50,000 jobs. “Where have those jobs gone,” she asked.
Ms Mehbooba said the BJP is claiming that they have finished corruption in Jammu and Kashmir but “I am hearing from the public that the type of corruption prevalent presently has never been there in J&K”.
“Take any department, the files are not moving. Earlier it (corruption) was used to be 10 or 20 per cent but it has now increased to 40 to 50 per cent, making the lives of the people difficult,” she said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)