Srinagar, Sep 24: Former chief minister and NC working President Omar Abdullah said that Narendra Modi has done pretty much nothing on Kashmir in four-and-a-half years.
“His Red Fort speech last year had the same promises on Kashmir which he repeated this year. Nothing has changed on the ground. There is no evidence that the new governor will operate in a political manner,” he said in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times.
Omar also blamed Centre for forcing them to opt out of local body polls by not making its stand clear on Article 35A. “PDP and the NC, have 43 MLAs in the 87-member assembly. That means half of the state’s legislative footprint is out of the fray. You can well imagine how representative these polls are,” he said.
He said that with the country heading for four crucial state assembly elections later this year, followed by the Lok Sabha polls next year, “there is no political capital available for a meaningful initiative on Kashmir. Whatever happens in J&K will now happen post the general elections.”
NC working president said that Bharatiya Janata Party which rules the country at present has been inimical to the special status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoys. “Politically, it can’t, which is why the challenge to Articles 35A and 370 is being mounted through the courts. This challenge is being supported, overtly or covertly, by elements of the Sangh Parivar,” Omar said.
“The fact is that there’s a BJP-led government at the helm, so we have our misgivings. On the previous two occasions when Article 35A was challenged in the Supreme Court, the Government of India made itself a party to the defence of this constitutional provision. That hasn’t happened this time. Nor has the Centre assured us that there will be no tinkering with the special status, which has already been diluted as far as it could be,” he said.
Omar believes that the PDP-BJP coalition squeezed the political space in Kashmir, exactly the way the NC-Congress alliance had in 1987.
“The constituency that the PDP built for itself was cleverly positioned between the NC and the pro-secession Hurriyat. It was just mainstream enough to fight polls, but just separatist enough to appeal to those who didn’t find space in the NC’s political landscape of autonomy. The PDP won its 28 seats on one platform: vote for us to keep the BJP out. That constituency felt let down when the PDP rushed to embrace the BJP for power. The alliance proved to be catastrophic for the state,” he said.
He said that because of the disastrous BJP-PDP coalition and mishandling by the Government of India, the home-grown dimension is a far bigger problem than the external dimension.” For the longest time, your defence was that these militants are all coming from across the border; that this is a Pakistan-created problem. Today your militants are home-grown. They don’t need Pakistan’s nudge or push. That push is coming from within. What else explains that 200-plus militants have been recruited in south Kashmir alone. That was PDP’s ‘garh’ (bastion),” Omar said.
When asked whether, BJP is engineering a split in the PDP to prop up a government in J&K, Omar said that it won’t happen. “The critical mass to float an alternative doesn’t exist. There were fledgling attempts. The best thing is to dissolve the assembly and, when the conditions are conducive, go for elections,” he said.
Omar said during PDP-BJP rule, more and more youths joined militant ranks. “Leave politics aside — see the growth in the number of militants, see the number of youngsters who are leaving well-paying jobs or good education and taking to arms. Look at the fact that the Anantnag parliamentary election is now the most delayed by-election in the country since 1995, and the fact that within hours of panchayat elections being announced, panchayat ghars are being set on fire,” he said.