Geelani’s rare protest honour for Rahul
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 79,who heads a breakaway, hardline section of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference, called for a complete shutdown across the Kashmir valley on Monday to protest against the visit of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Arun Joshi reports.india Updated: Apr 27, 2009 01:15 IST
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 79,who heads a breakaway, hardline section of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), called for a complete shutdown across the Kashmir valley on Monday to protest against the visit of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
It is an honour of sorts — in the past, Geelani has sent out such boycott calls only when prime ministers came visiting.
Rahul will be campaigning for his alliance partner, the National Conference’s candidate, in Anantnag, Mehboob Beg. The seat goes to the polls on April 30.
Asked why he had called for a bandh against Rahul Gandhi’s visit when the latter still enjoyed no official position in the UPA administration, Geelani was frank. “Aj nahi to kal woh (Rahul) prime minister ban hi jayega, (Sooner or later he will be PM),” he said.
Only on Saturday, Rahul had insisted in Kolkata he was not ready to takeover as prime minister.
“I respect Rahul Gandhi as an individual,” Geelani told Hindustan Times over telephone from Srinagar.
“But I’ve given this call because he represents the ruling Congress, which is at the root of all of Kashmir’s miseries.
But such calls have been given by the APHC when non-Congress prime ministers like H.D. Deve Gowda and Atal Behari Vajpayee came visiting. Moreover no such call was given on Rahul’s earlier visit to the valley on November 28 last year to campaign in the assembly polls. Nor was any boycott called when Sonia visited last December.
“I can’t remember about non Congress prime ministers,” said Geelani. “I must have been in Delhi or in jail at those times.”