Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

• ‘PM is mindful of our sufferings; he would come to Valley with open heart’
• CM defends coalition with BJP yet again
Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar, Oct 29:

Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Thursday hinted at the announcement of the much-awaited flood relief package for Jammu and Kashmir during the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to the State on November 7.
Mufti said the central assistance was delayed as Modi was gauging the “honesty” of the PDP-led coalition government in reaching out to the deserving beneficiaries.
“Flood victims have been crying throughout the year that why the prime minister doesn’t announce any package. The reason was he was checking how honest our government was towards reaching the beneficiaries and now he is satisfied,” said the chief minister said.
“He (Modi) oversees all the developments here: roads, rail, education, health. He keeps watch over all these things. That is the reason till date he has not given any big package. He was testing the state by our deeds, checking whether whatever small amount he gave us has reached the beneficiaries or not.”
Mufti addressed public meetings at Jawahar Nagar and Raj Bagh after laying foundation stones of new Mehjoor Bridge and Kissan Ghar.
“I really feel about the flood victims. I didn’t talk about this issue all these months because I was waiting for the right time,” he said.
Mufti said Modi was mindful of the sufferings of common Kashmiris “and he would come to the Valley with an open heart”.
The chief minister urged people to accord warm welcome to the prime minister.  “I want that when Modi ji arrives here, he should get the same warm response as Atal ji received. There is some trust-deficit among people which I want should be reduced.”
“If you want that J&K should move on the path of peace and happiness, if you want our state to act as a mediator between India and Pakistan, then the prime minister will extend helping hand only after assessing your trust,” Mufti said while using his oft-repeated slogan ‘Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se’.
“How can I fight unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment alone so I joined my small hand with Modi’s big hand,” he said. “History has given us an opportunity to shake hand with the whole India.”
Mufti hailed the initiatives of former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Kashmir. “Atal ji announced from Red Fort that J&K elections would be conducted in a transparent manner. Before that it was commonly said Delhi calls all the shots in J&K.”
“When Atal ji came here in 2003, the conditions were very unstable. At that time parliament attack had taken place, continuous border firing was taking place. But seeing the unstable condition of the state, Atal ji extended hand of friendship towards Pakistan,” he said.
Terming democracy as ‘battle of the ideas’, he said: “Difference of opinion is a right in democracy. You have your views, I have mine. We can’t send our youth to jails for different opinions.”
He asserted that Modi acknowledged the Special Status of J&K in Indian constitution. “So I appeal those who have conflict with our ideas to have their differences but don’t make the atmosphere hostile.”
Speaking at length for the second successive day on tying up with BJP to forge an alliance in J&K, Mufti said he had no desire of ruling the state. “But when election time arrived people came to me and reminded me how well I had managed the state from 2002 to 2005,” he said.
The chief minister claimed people telling him: “Mufti sahib, you did wonderful work. You scrapped the state task force which had made hell of the lives of people. You opened doors of jails which had been imprisoning people for venting their emotions.”
“But when the time of voting came, though I salute Srinagar, but I had better expected from you people that I would fall short and get only 28 seats. After failing to get full mandate I took it as an opportunity to get along the people of Jammu. Right from 1947, there has been lack of trust between Jammu and Kashmir regions as parties didn’t take Jammu people in confidence. But I made history by combining ‘will of Kashmir’ with ‘will of Jammu’ when I entered into coalition with BJP.”
Mufti said he had several options available to form the government. “I received calls from Sonia Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and even Omar Abdullah, who offered unconditional support, but I saw an opportunity to go with BJP and respect the mandate it had won in Jammu region,” he said.
“I introspected and decided to make a history,” Mufti said, adding, Narendra Modi enjoys the mandate and support of 1.2 billion Indians.
“If Kashmiris would not be able to strike friendship with Jammuites this time, then how come they can do so with the Indians? So I got an opportunity to bridge the gap and formed a common agenda with BJP which took two months of hectic negotiations.”
During the two months, he said, “I stressed there must be a friendship with Pakistan, Centre has to talk with a common Kashmiri, and the Special Status of the state has to be kept untouched.”
“To rule is not my desire; my aim is to dispel the phase of uncertainty in the state, to make J&K a model state in the country. As our people appreciated the decision of 1947 to join democratic India but still our neighbour Pakistan even after 75 years has failed to decide her own path,” Modi said.

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