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Mehbooba Has the Same Mettle as Mufti Sahab, People Didn’t Get That: Amitabh Mattoo

Speaking to CNN-News18’s Anuradha SenGupta in his first interview after PDP-BJP divorce in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti’s former advisor said her task of navigating through “male-dominated” Kashmiri politics was always a difficult one.

Updated:June 29, 2018, 2:21 PM IST
New Delhi: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s inability to reach out to the intelligence agencies and the corridors of power in Delhi was one of the reasons that led to the fall of her coalition government with the BJP, her former advisor Amitabh Mattoo has said.

Speaking to CNN-News18’s Anuradha SenGupta in his first interview after the PDP-BJP divorce in Jammu and Kashmir, Mattoo said Mehbooba’s task of navigating through “male-dominated” Kashmiri politics was always a difficult one. People didn’t understand that she was of the same mettle as her late father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, he added.

“She was not comfortable dealing with, I would imagine, the intelligence agencies. But anyone who knows Kashmir knows that if you don’t deal with intelligence agencies, you do so at your own peril because that’s the instrument New Delhi often uses to carry out its policies and deliver its initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir. That world which is often spooky, a world which is often subterranean, a world mostly made of men is not easy… for someone who’s… ultimately a conservative Kashmiri woman, cosmopolitan in outlook, guided by the vision of larger ideals,” he said.

The BJP ended its 27-month-old alliance with the PDP on June 19, leading to the fall of the Mehbooba Mufti government. While the BJP accused the PDP of not extending the Centre’s schemes to the state and adopting a “soft” approach to terrorism, the latter dismissed the charges.

Among the many reasons cited for the break-up were the contradictory positions on the Kathua rape and murder case and the ‘Ramzan ceasefire’.

“I think it is a question of sensibilities. Amit Shah is in the business of winning elections and will obviously play up the differences. The BJP’s main constituency in J&K, electorally, is Jammu and Ladakh so they will want to try and emphasise that they pulled out for the sake of people in Jammu and Kashmir,” Mattoo said.

On speculation of the BJP not informing the PDP of its decision in advance, Mattoo said, “I think it is the nature of power and the way it is exercised in New Delhi now. The local unit of the BJP was probably caught off guard as much as any leader from the PDP. Power is centralised. There are few people who make decisions and often they don’t; they leave others to package that decision. So, it’s that packaging which often comes across as shabby and not presentable enough.”

Mattoo added that the state, which is currently under Governor’s Rule, should have a democratically elected government as soon as possible. “Ideally, I think in the minimum amount of time, we should have a democratically elected government in place without resorting to machinations that New Delhi has often done in the past, which means that you don’t buy, rig or influence the outcome.”

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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