New Delhi: BJP and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's PDP may be partners in the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, but during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as Prime Minister the saffron party was "distrustful" of Mufti, according to former RAW Chief A S Dulat.
Dulat claims in a new book "Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years" that one of the reasons for the distrust was the "kind of help" Mufti got during the 2002 state Assembly elections. He does not elaborate.
A Special Advisor on Kashmir in Vajpayee's PMO after his retirement as Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Chief in 2000, Dulat narrates an episode during the then Prime Minister's visit to Srinagar in April 2003 when he famously extended his hand towards Pakistan.
"When Vajpayee went to Srinagar in April 2003 and famously extended his hand towards Pakistan, a stage was erected high up for the public meeting. Sitting up on the stage were Vajpayee and Mufti. Mehbooba wanted to join them, but she was politely told that there was no place for her on that stage.
"Vajpayee did not want her up there. He did not want her projected. There were grave doubts about Mehbooba in Delhi, about her links with the Hizbul Mujahideen and the help it provided her and her party during the 2002 elections," says the 75-year-old Dulat, an IPS officer of 1965 batch.
Efforts to reach Mehbooba Mufti did not succeed as she left for Philadelphia early this morning. PDP spokesperson Mehboob Baig declined to comment on this.
Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Naeem Akthar was also approached for comments but he neither replied to repeated phone calls nor answered SMSes.
Narrating his recent chat with Mufti after last year's Parliamentary elections in which PDP bagged all the three seats from the Valley, Dulat said Mufti mentioned that Pakistan was getting to everybody in Kashmir.
"They are financing everybody...Humein bhi contact kiya hai (We were also contacted)," he said.
The author goes on to say that Mufti had attained power with the help of pro-Pakistani separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani. "Both of them are 'Pirs', who are groups of families from whom Kashmir gets its religious preachers, and that explains their proximity. The feeling among some Kashmiris, however, is that most 'Pirs' are frauds," he said.
Dulat termed PDP as a brain child of Geelani and Mufti but it appears now that they were falling out.
Dulat claimed that Mufti was in awe of National
Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah and even after the NC stalwart lost last year's Parliamentary elections, Mufti said "even if he has lost, Farooq Abdullah would remain Farooq Abdullah."
Recalling an interesting incident of 1995, Dulat said Mufti approached him through his emissary for a secret meeting.
"A meeting was fixed at my residence and Mufti saheb came sharp at 8.30 PM.
"Farooq took his time in coming. He did it purely for effect, and he did it deliberately because it was Mufti. They were meeting after a long time, and of course, don't forget that Farooq had been forced out of his job at the start of 1990. He got a kick out of keeping Mufti waiting," he said.
"...Are you sure Farooq is coming," was a question by Mufti as Abdullah had not turned even by 9 PM. After 15 minutes he arrived and both started talking.
Dulat wanted that the relation should continue between Farooq and Abdullah and blamed Congress leader Saif-ud-din Soz, who was an important leader of National Conference at that point, in "spoiling all this".