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‘Backed Sayed to give him free hand’

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Omar abdullah vs muftiNew Delhi: The unconditional support extended by National Conference to PDP for government formation was intended to allow Mufti Mohammed Sayeed take “free decisions” as Chief Minister as joining hands with a national party would have left him “constrained”, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.
Omar, however, ruled out the possibility of his party showing such a gesture again in the event of the State’s ruling PDP-BJP alliance breaking up.
Speaking for the first time about the reasons for NC’s decision to back PDP to form government, Omar said there were no political motives attached other than that he knew the compulsions of forming a government with a party that had pan-India presence.
“At that time it had nothing to do with anything other than that I had an experience of running an alliance government for six years with a party that was not constrained to keep the interest of Jammu and Kashmir in front and centre all the time.
“The fact is when you are a national party, be it the Congress or the BJP, Jammu and Kashmir is only one part of the constituency that you have to look at and, therefore, you always play out decisions that you take in Jammu and Kashmir and their implications for the rest of the country.
“My offer of support to the PDP was simply to remove this constrataint from the State Government that Mufti Sayeed would have to operate wherein he would be free to take decisions in the interest of the State without having to worry about how they would play out politically in the rest of the country,” Omar, NC Working President, told PTI in an interview.
After the elections threw up a hung Assembly, NC with 15 MLAs had extended unconditional support to PDP which had 28 MLAs in the 87-member House.
Asked if he would again extend a helping hand in the event of a split in PDP-BJP alliance, Omar said,” Nothing. We will go back to the people.
“The PDP had one chance to take the support of NC…He turned that down. It was a one-time offer. It won’t be repeated. And therefore, if this alliance doesn’t work, we will go back and let the people decide again,” he said.
The 45-year-old leader, who along with his father Farooq Abdullah is busy strengthening his party following the defeat in the Assembly polls, expressed disappointment over frequent break down of law and order but said it will not be a summer of discontent in the State.
“No, I don’t think that things are as bad as that. We learnt some costly but very valuable lessons in 2010.
Therefore, I don’t perceieve a summer of discomfort but it’s not a comfortable situation where you have this sort of regularity with which Pakistani flags are being displayed,” Omar said.
“When these flags are waved, you end up with statements where BJP starts targeting the PDP and then the Chief Minister has to react and it is seen to have to react on the directions of the Central Government or the BJP….so this sort of regular display of Pakistani flags is troubling the state government and making difficult the life of the coalition and the understanding between the BJP and the PDP,” he said.
He also took a dig at the government over its stand on separatist leadership.
“The fact is that this sort of selective detention on Fridays and all is something that my government did as well.
The situation demanded it and we did it. But I came in for a lot of criticism from the PDP president and others for exactly taking these sort of measures. But, as I said, this is something that this government seems to be quite happy replicating.
“There is a difference in what they said and what they are doing now,” he said and cited the case of separatist Masarat Alam.
“I wasn’t able to release him for the same reasons why Sayeed had to rearrest him. I knew what would happen, I knew how precarious the situation could be…You released Masarat Alam and two days later you again detained him. I kept him in Srinagar, they sent him to Kot Balwal in Jammu. So they have gone a few steps ahead of me,” Omar said.
Omar took a dig at the PDP-BJP government for trying to create an impression that films are being shot in Kashmir only during their tenure.
“Again, on the whole film shooting thing…it’s a little irritating that when a perception is allowed to grow that suddenly Kashmir has reopened for Bollywood as if in last six years nobody came and shot a film there. Films have been shot over last six years and just that we did not make a big deal about it,” he said.
“I think Mufti Sayeed should focus less on Salman Khan and Sharukh Khan and focus on going to Gujarat and Kolkata and Chennai and get the tour operators to send tourists because otherwise our hotel industry is having a horrible season this year and they barely manage to pull themseleves out of misery of the floods. This season is likely going to make their lives more miserable,” he said.
He wondered if the plan of operating chartered planes for bringing tourists would succeed.
“Last year, tickets at last minute could be brought at Rs 20 to 23 thousand and this year you can get it at rupees four or five thousand. That’s the difference between tourist season of last year and this year,” he said. (PTI)

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