Former Union minister and J&K PCC chief Prof. Saifuddin Soz spoke with Yusuf Jameel on Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Soz says that the Centre has declared its desire to go to any extent to polarise the situation in order to win the 2019 general elections, and to keep J&K under Governor’s Rule for some time. Excerpts:
Why has the Congress categorically stated that it is not interested in exploring the possibility of forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir?
It in a way is good because a government should not be formed in these circumstances. It is a fragile time. The situation is not any conducive for forming a government. Also with not much time left for general elections in the country, the government at the Centre has almost declared and shown their taste and culture to go to any extent to polarise the situation with a view to win these (2019 elections). They do and will do everything within their reach to win as many seats. For this they will use Jammu as launching pad and my hunch is that they will polarise it to the extent that it would prove detrimental to the integrity of the state of J&K. It is dangerous dispensation and everybody has to be alert. The Congress in my opinion has done the best thing (not to attempt at forming a government with other parties).
The Congress has in the past cobbled up alliances with both People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and ruling National Conference (NC) to rule the state. Why have they become unacceptable and undesirable now?
I’m not a representative of the Congress Party or its spokesperson. I’m broadly a Congressman because I love and respect the idea behind Congress. This time around the principles on which the Congress stands have become all the more important because of policies and actions of the dispensation at the Centre, which undoubtedly are erroneous and even dangerous. So the Congress is the unifying factor for the national Opposition. I feel Congress should lead the national Opposition and we shall have a winning situation in 2019. Against this backdrop, we should allow the Governor’s Rule to run in J&K for some time.
Some people say that it has more to do with the “bitter” experiences the Congress has had particularly with the PDP than BJP’s good or bad intentions?
That’s not the point. The question is: will you be able to form a responsive government in given circumstances? A government that lives up to the expectation of the government and, at the same time, no one tries to run it down by playing sectarian and regional politics.
What impact will the collapse of the PDP-BJP government and imposition of Governor’s Rule have on the overall situation in J&K?
I want to say everything keeping aspirations of average Kashmiri in view. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had gone wrong sometimes in his life. But he got time to correct the situations. But to go with the BJP and forge this “North Pole, South Pole” alliance was a blunder on his part. It couldn’t run. It couldn’t be successful. Mehbooba Mufti became a victim of circumstances. It was her father’s legacy which she willingly accepted. She tried her best to run the administration but couldn’t do it as several BJP ministers were reportedly corrupt. There are other allegations against them which people of Jammu know better. Therefore, they couldn’t give a good government to the people. That is the limitation of the BJP in the J&K. They don’t have talent and they don’t have men of integrity with them.
When you say Ms Mufti became a victim as she inherited it from her late father but we also know that she got time and also number of chances to walk off. But she chose to stay with the people till it pulled the rug from under feet.
What can you do? Naeem Akhtar (a close confidante of Ms Mufti and former works minister) is saying they wanted to do so many things. They couldn’t do anything. History will not be made how they were thinking in their minds. History will judge them by their committing a blunder by being strange bedfellows. The BJP was never to be trusted. It practices sectarian politics. It was on April 17, 1999 that I told the whole nation that the BJP can’t claim my vote for confidence although I didn’t have any personal issues with Atal Behari Vajpayeeji. But I was and am still deadly against the BJP’s ideology for being iniquitous. So I proved it. Subsequently even the National Conference realised it. They took time to understand it. Ms Mufti must have started her lesson afresh.
The governor has put the state Assembly in suspended animation. Will it encourage “horse-trading” as has been publicly feared by NC leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah?
The BJP maybe wanting to do something with the PDP and other elements, but I don’t think it is possible or they will succeed in it. Yet I think the Assembly should be dissolved forthwith to deny such a chance to anyone wishing to wreak democracy.
Do you see possibility of holding elections in near future if the Assembly is dissolved by the governor? I’m asking this question because the government has not been able to create atmosphere conducive for holding Anantnag Lok Sabha byelection for more than two years now. In 1990s, it took the government six years to hold elections to the state Assembly after chief minister Farooq Abdullah quit and the state was subsequently brought under Centre’s rule after dissolving the Assembly.
That is a side issue for us. Leave aside what will happen to Srinagar, Anantnag or Baramulla (Lok Sabha constituencies). The entire Valley this time is in bad shape and the situation is not good enough. People are angry and dejected. Still I would like to leave it to the people. You and me are helpless in this situation. Let us see the mood of the people and what they are going to do.
Does that mean we have to wait for pretty long time to see elections being held in J&K?
This time Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his colleague and BJP president Amit Shah don’t seem to be bothered what will happen to J&K. They are in a mood to try to win that election in 2019 by hook or crook. They can do anything — sectarian politics, communal politics, total polarisation and worse. They have a nefarious design to polarise the society on communal lines and will choose Jammu as its initial battleground.
What is the basis of this arraign?
While still being allies of Ms Mufti they covertly supported Hindu Ekta Manch in Jammu. This tells a lot about their intention.
In a media report, you have been quoted as saying Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf was right when he said Kashmiris prefer independence to joining Pakistan. In its strong reaction, the BJP said, “Alas there’s a Pakistan outside of India and a Pakistan within the Congress.” How would you defend yourself?
I spoke about an opinion. You may agree with it or you may not. People are the ultimate arbitrators.