Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 promised to make National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah the vice president, but later reneged on his promise, a key member of his PMO has said.
In an exclusive interview to the India Today Television programme 'To The Point' telecast Thursday, former head of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) AS Dulat, revealed that the offer was made at his residence on Vajpayee's behalf by principal secretary Brajesh Mishra.
Later Farooq Abdullah told Dulat that both Vajpayee and deputy PM LK Advani confirmed the offer. The Kashmir leader however did not trust Delhi to carry out this promise.
Vajpayee then dropped the idea as his government felt Abdullah was "unreliable" and also because the package deal to make Krishan Kant the president did not happen.
When Abdullah's bitterness was conveyed to Mishra he promised to make Abdullah a cabinet minister, but the idea was later dropped as well, Dulat said.
In other interesting information, Dulat said Vajpayee suspected PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti of having links with the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jamaat and had even advised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi not to make her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed the chief minister.
During a visit to Srinagar in April 2003, Vajpayee insisted that Mehbooba should not be on the stage with him and Mufti Sayeed, Dulat said.
In the same interview Dulat revealed how Syed Salahuddin, the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Jihadi Council based in Pakistan, once contacted the head of IB in Srinagar, KM Singh, to ask for a medical college seat for his son. This was arranged by Farooq Abdullah, who was then the chief minister.
Dulat said there are frequent instances of IB and RAW doing such favours for militants, including those in Pakistan, and that this could have been been an attempt to lure Salauddin back.
In another aside, Dulat said how the crisis management group bungled the Kandahar hijack and how the plane was not detained in Amritsar.
Finally the Indian government had to release three Kashmiri militants in return for the hostages and Abdullah was very furious about the deal, he said.
The former RAW chief said it was Advani's meeting with General Musharraf the night before that possibly soured the Agra Summit.
This was when Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim and cast a shadow over the talks, he said.
The interview also threw some light on what Vajpayee said about of the Gujarat riots post the 2004 election defeats.
“He said that was a mistake on our part and the pain was visible on Vajpayee's face," Dulat added.