This interview is a feature from The latest Outlook Magazine. You can read the comments in the second question or go directly to the main article using the link provided at the base
Former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir and National Conference chief Omar Abdullah tells Outlook that, in large parts of the state, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is “a laughing stock”. He explains why in a conversation with Bula Devi, and speaks of what the tortured revival of the PDP-BJP alliance and government will mean. Excerpts:
How do you react to this whole episode of government formation?
It has been unnecessarily messy. We were initially told that Mehbooba Mufti was too overcome by grief at the death of her father and was unable to take over immediately. Then it was said that she was reluctant to take over without any “CBMs” from the Government of India. The PDP itself said that in 10 months the agenda of alliance had failed, and the alliance was deeply unpopular. Mehbooba has on record said that she neither has the experience nor the stature of her father to sell this unpopular alliance without some categorical commitment from the Centre and that too, from no lesser person than the prime minister. She held her ground for two months and a few days. Obviously something dramatically changed in the last week or ten days that she suddenly became willing for talks with Amit Shah and other senior leaders in the BJP. It does not bode well for the state.
What do you think weighed with her?
She was caught between a rock and a hard place and she is the only one to blame. Nobody forced her to make demands from the Centre. It was something she chose to do and I think she made the cardinal mistake of equating the Prime Minister and Amit Shah with Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi because those are the people she was used to dealing with in her previous avatar when they were in alliance with the Congress. The biggest mistake the PDP is going to make is to think that they are dealing with people similar to Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. They are not.
The way in which she was systematically humiliated is amazing. For instance, she met the prime minister and came out to say that she was satisfied. It could have been left at that. But no, a senior BJP leader went on record to say that nothing has been given to her; that she sought nothing other than the blessings of the prime minister and he gave his blessings. This further erodes her credibility. In large parts of Jammu and Kashmir today, for want of a better word, Mehbooba is a laughing stock.
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