National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has said that the PDP should continue its alliance with the BJP to complete the agenda of former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, putting to rest speculation of a possible realignment of forces in the state.
Abdullah had set the political grapevine abuzz after hinting that his party was ready for an alliance with the BJP if the latter sought its help for government formation in the state following the death of Sayeed earlier this month.
The state was put under governor’s rule on January 8 after PDP leader and Sayeed’s daughter Mehbooba Mufti expressed her unwillingness to take over as the chief minister immediately, fuelling speculation that the regional party was having a change of heart over its alliance with the ideologically opposite BJP.
“My advice to her (Mehbooba) would be, this is your father’s assembly. All the people elected in PDP are because of him, and therefore, she must complete her father’s agenda, which is (the) alliance with BJP. If she tries to play with it, then she is not her father’s daughter,” Abdullah said during an exclusive interview to HT.
The NC patriarch was all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy, saying he was best suited to bring about peace between the two countries. He also took a dig at the Congress-led UPA government for not being able to come up with a solution to ease the friction between the neighbours in its 10-year rule.
Abdullah also said that had former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won the general elections in 2004, the problems between India and Pakistan would have been solved. But in the current context, Modi seems determined to complete the unfinished agenda of peace between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, he added.
“Had [Atal Behari] Vajpayee won again, I am sure the problem between India and Pakistan would have been solved. But, he did not win; now the onus is on the present PM,” he said, adding, “There is no better PM than him, who can do it.”
On Modi’s visit to Lahore in December, which was hailed as a diplomatic coup of sorts, Abdullah said: “It is a great thing that the PM of India could really take such a major step with an unscheduled visit to Pakistan. [It] shows the courage he has in wanting to settle problems with Pakistan. I think he realises that friends can be changed, but not neighbours; so we have to live in friendship with them so that we can both progress.”
The NC leader, whose party was a coalition partner of the NDA but withdrew in 2002, said the Congress-led UPA government during its decade-long term did not have the mandate to pursue a peace-process with Pakistan.
“The UPA had problems, they were afraid that if they go beyond a certain limit, the people of India would not accept it,” he pointed out.
The uproar and criticism that followed the 2009 Sharm-el- Sheikh joint statement aimed at delinking action on terror from the composite dialogue process, Abdullah pointed out, is an example of the limitations that the UPA faced.
“What was the reaction after Sharm-el-Sheikh, yet Manmohan Singh had done it with clear understanding that this will pave the way for better future for both countries. Today luckily, the RSS which is a major factor of the government is going along with the PM in solving the problem, which is an advantage,” he added.
The former chief minister, however, cautioned that the recent attack in Pathankot, believed to be planned and executed by a Pakistan-based terror group, is likely to be replicated, because “vested interests” in the neighbouring country do not wish to see peace between two nations.
“No one can tell what is going to be the relationship between India and Pakistan, which is vital for our peace; secondly, the PDP-BJP government, how they will try to balance their relations with each other, this will make a lot of difference for our future,” he said on the ramifications of India-Pakistan ties on Kashmir.