After Lone, separatist leader Rashid warms up to BJP | india | Hindustan Times
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After Lone, separatist leader Rashid warms up to BJP

india Updated: Nov 07, 2014 20:26 IST
Toufiq Rashid

Following the footsteps of former separatist Sajad Lone, firebrand politician and pro-separatist leader Engineer Rashid has warmed up to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Rashid, an independent MLA from Langate in North Kashmir, is known for his resolution to save late Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

However, like his former patron Lone, Rashid does not consider BJP "untouchable" anymore.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue and party general secretary Ram Madhav was in the Valley to help the BJP make allies in case it fell short of its magic number (44) to form the government in the country's only Muslim majority state.

Madhav had earlier met former separatist Sajad Lone. Lone and Rashid (former allies) enjoy a good support base in North Kashmir's Kupwara and Handwara regions.

Confirming his meeting with general secretary Ram Madhav, Rashid said he had set the preconditions for his support.

Rashid told Hindustan Times: "I am ready to support whoever frees Kashmiris from the miseries they are in. I am ready to talk to even Lashkar, Jihad Council, Shiv Sena or the RSS. My priority is not winning elections but ensuring that the people of Kashmir live in peace because I am not some decision-maker in Kashmir. I am a common man who witnesses the sufferings that people undergo everyday.

He, however, said tha his party Awami Itihad Party (AIP) would press the BJP government to resolve the Kashmir issue.

"I seek commitment from the government because we are dying. Kashmir has become a graveyard. The BJP government has to make a firm commitment that they will resolve the problem and involve all stakeholders, including militants. If the central government can enter into dialogues with militants in Punjab, why should Kashmir be an exception? The government cannot be hostile to militants and Pakistan because at the end of the day, dialogue is the only solution."

Rashid, however, said the meeting with BJP leaders should not generate any negative responses.

"If India is to be ruled by BJP for a long time, does it mean that we should not speak to the Centre till the BJP is in power?"

Madhav, according to sources, held meetings with agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, who is heading the Democratic National Party, and former minister and independent legislator Hakim Yasin.

Mir, a member of the Omar Abdullah cabinet, came into limelight recently when former army chief and union minister VK Singh called him an alleged recipient of some "secret army fund allotted to Kashmiri leaders to bring people into the mainstream''.

The allegations, however, were proved to be baseless.