Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir government with the BJP as partner, has said “there is no alternative” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who he believes is “here to stay for the next 10 years”.
However, calling the lynching in Dadri “an attack on India’s diversity”, Sayeed said the Prime Minister “must fight” elements trying to create a “communal” atmosphere in the country by “polarising communities”.
In his first interview seven months after he took charge of the state, Sayeed said: “What has happened (in Dadri) is very wrong. It is divisive, it is polarising communities, and that is not good for the country. It is creating a communal mahaul (atmosphere). There is need to fight this trend politically and the Prime Minister and the whole system has to do it. The Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister have to control their loose cannons, and fight this administratively and politically.”
“There is a big population of Muslims in India, they chose to be in India at the time of Partition because of its secular character. Muslims have behaved responsibly, they did not make their party, they went either with the Congress, Mulayam or Lalu or others.”
Sayeed said his faith in Modi remains unshaken. “I think there is no alternative to Modi today at the national level. Many people may not like it, but this is my view. I feel he is here to stay for the next 10 years.”
Asked about his stand on the ban on beef in the state which has been in place since Dogra rule, Sayeed said: “The question to ask is why has the beef ban remained in the state for 75 years, under successive governments, be it of Sheikh Saheb, Bakshi Saheb, Sadiq Saheb, or others. Why was the ban not lifted? There is sensitivity about the issue. And there is toleration in the system.”
“In rural areas, it used to be eaten chori chori (by stealth) because it was cheaper meat, as happens in the villages of UP. Generally, people in Kashmir do not eat beef. Now the matter is with the Supreme Court, with two benches of the High Court having taken contradictory positions.”
On the speculation that he may make way for daughter Mehbooba Mufti in view of his health problems, he said: “I had a prostate problem and at one stage it had become very painful. Then I showed it to doctors in Delhi who said it was a muscular spasm. Now I have relief.”
Told that the BJP was not very keen on Mehbooba being given the reins of power, he said: “Mehbooba is very competent, and capable of leadership, and she is the most credible face today. There is no impediment from the BJP’s side to her taking over. But I feel I have to spend just a little more time to stabilise the situation.”
(Chowdhury, a Delhi-based journalist, was Political Editor of The Indian Express)
Mir Ehsan adds from Srinagar: Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar Wednesday, Sayeed said the Dadri incident has been condemned by all. “There is diversity in India and we have the same diversity in Jammu and Kashmir. Here people are concerned about these incidents like the way people are concerned in other parts of the country,’’ he said.
“Elements responsible for the Dadri incident should be dealt with.” He said the Prime Minister got a mandate for good governance, transparency and changing the system. “Sab ka Saath Sabka Vikas, and to take the country forward,’’ he said.
He said a message must go from those who have been given the mandate to rule the country for the next five years and make the country a great economic power. “If they want India to emerge as a great power, then India needs to be inclusive in nature,’’ he said, adding that Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have already condemned the Dadri incident.
Earlier, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted: “What does it say about our Hon PM that Sidhu’s DVT (blood clot) got more attention from him that #Ikhlaq’s cold blooded murder did!!!!.’’