‘Black snow in Kashmir’; ‘Chai and chit-chat’: Azad recalls his camaraderie with PM Modi
Senior Congress leader and outgoing leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad made headlines recently with his teary-eyed speech in the parliament and PM Narendra Modi’s equally emotional shower of praises for the veteran politician.
Such was the camaraderie in the moment between the two that many wondered whether Azad, a former J&K Chief Minister, was thinking of joining BJP.
Responding to such reports, Azad in an interview to Hindustan Times, said he will join the saffron party “when Kashmir will have black snow”, referring to a Kashmiri phrase meant to explain the impossibility of any such thing to happen.
“I will join the BJP when we have black snow in Kashmir. Why BJP — that’s the day I’ll join any other party. Those who say this or spread these rumours, they don’t know me,” Azad said in the interview.
On both Azad and PM Modi crying during their speeches, he said that they both knew each other since the ‘90s and shared a cordial relationship of “chit-chat and chai”.
“We were both general secretaries, and we used to come on TV debates representing different views; we used to fight also in the debates. But, if we reached early, we used to share a cup of tea also and chit-chat,” said Azad.
“Why we were both crying was not because we knew each other, but the reason was that, in 2006, a Gujarati tourist bus was attacked [in Kashmir], and I broke down while speaking to him. The PM was saying that here is a person who’s retiring who is also a good human being. He couldn’t complete the story because he broke down, and when I wanted to complete the story, I couldn’t because I felt I was back in that moment 14 years ago when the attack took place,” he said.
Asked if he thought PM’s Modi’s gesture will resonate with a wider audience of Jammu & Kashmir, Azad said that it “will not affect the issues of J&K.”
The entire population, he said, was “so concerned about Article 370 and downgrading of the state to a Union territory.”
“…We’ve been reduced to ashes. I’ve only seen upgradation of UTs into states, and my own state, which is among the largest and oldest states in the country, has been made a UT. Nobody can digest that,” he said
On Shashi Tharoor describing the PM’s crying that as an ‘artfully crafted performance’, Azad said: I don’t know in which sense, and most of the people didn’t know the background. A lot of people thought the PM was doing it artificially, because why should he bother that a Congressman is going. As I said, the words he used were for me, but our emotion was in a different context.
On his “Indian Muslim” comment, Azad said he had pointed out in AMU that the atmosphere in the country “is so vitiated that contrary to the past where 99% of Hindu candidates would invite me to campaign for them to get the Muslim vote, the number of invitations has gone down to 40%.”
“My message was also to the alumni who had gathered there, that it’s their job to be ambassadors, and to bring that India back — the India where I contested in 1979 in the Lok Sabha from Maharashtra, where 95% where Hindus. There was a Janata Party Hindu candidate against me, but I still won,” he said.
When asked if it was the “same India” and whether a young Muslim leader could aspire to be PM, Azad replied: “It’s very difficult. I don’t foresee it in near future, maybe a few decades.”