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Mehbooba says PDP ‘free of garbage now’

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Apologises for ‘toffee’ remark; says, strongly defended JK’s interests as CM; “wasn’t keen to join hands with BJP, did so to avert defection in party”

Srinagar, Jan 07: Putting up a brave face to show that they is unfazed by the string of resignations that have rocked her party, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday invited the youth to join her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying her party was “free of garbage now”.

“From this platform, I want to invite the youth of Jammu and Kashmir who are educated and interested in resolution of the Kashmir issue to come and join us,” Mehbooba said today while addressing her workers on the third death anniversary of her father and party founder Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at his graveyard in Bijbehara town of Anantnag district.

“…all the garbage in the party has gone out with the wind,” she said while referring to the resignations of her party leaders and former colleagues.

Asserting that she would not have lost power had she signed on the “dotted line”, Mehbooba Mufti claimed that she bargained and bargained very hard for the interests of the state.

“If I had signed on dotted line like in the case of Afzal Guru, the PDP government wouldn’t have been toppled by the BJP,” Mufti said in a veiled attack on her arch-rival National Conference and its vice-president Omar Abdullah who was chief minister at the time of Guru’s hanging.

She said since she remained consistently firm on “PDP’s agenda” which was included in ‘agenda of alliance’, the BJP had to run away. “Otherwise, there wasn’t any other reason for the BJP to withdraw its support.

“In spite of the problems that we faced, we didn’t compromise on progress and development. However, the political agenda of the PDP and party’s firm belief on its principles led the BJP to turn its back. Being in the government PDP kept insisting for the withdrawal of the FIRs, amnesty for the stone-pelters, and return of the power projects from the NHPC,” a party press release quoted Mufti as saying.

Defending her recent visits to the families of slain militants in Pulwama, she said she wanted to send across a message that the families of the militants shouldn’t be harassed.

“A girl was being harassed there; it was question of her honour. I thought my visit to the family would send a message to the government that if we have to fight the militants we don’t have to harass their families,” she said, adding that "I did not go on my own, I went because I was called by these people. If anyone has problem with my such visits, I will not go but doors of Mehbooba Mufti are open for all Kashmiris who are in trouble or facing any problems."

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah had criticised Mehbooba's visit to the militant's family by calling her an “architect” of 'Operation All-out'.

Mehbooba Mufti also apologised for her ‘toffee’ remark, saying she was concerned for children “being pushed to rallies where they got injured’.

“Didn’t I have this right to tell these children in a loud voice that you were part of my rallies… why were you asked to stand in the front of those rallies (protest demonstrations) where you, God forbid, got injured,” said Mehbooba while addressing her workers on the death anniversary of her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

“I still apologise if anyone was hurt,” she said: “What else can I do?”

She also said that remark was made out of the motherly concern as I was outraged over the way in which children are being pushed into the danger zones.

“The precious lives that were lost during that year is a loss to me and to the families of those kids. I have fought with army and Ikhwan only for the people and to make their lives safe and secure,” Mufti said.

Mehbooba was widely criticised for her comment during 2016 uprising that the “youth were not going to army camps and police stations to buy toffee and milk”.

She made the comment while addressing a press conference in Srinagar along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the peak of the uprising triggered by July 08 killing of militant commander Burhan Wani.

Claiming that the PDP main aim has always been to resolve problems of Kashmir, Mufti said “the best model for that is the period between 2002 and 2005. After the 2014 polls the PDP didn’t get a clear mandate and out of the compulsion had to join hands with the BJP.

“The party was hopeful that Modi would behave like Vajpayee, but he didn’t and that was a letdown.  When in November 2015, a rally was organized by the PDP for Modi, people had come on Mufti Sahib’s call to listen. However, Modi didn’t rise to the occasion and things started falling apart,” Mehbooba Mufti said.

According to the party press release, she said that after the death of her father, she tried to bargain with the BJP for four months, “demanding the return of power projects, peace initiatives, and confidence-building measures.”

And tacitly conceding problems within her party even at that point of time, she said “when things were taking the final shape, our own people went to Nagpur and told the BJP that the government could be formed even without Mehbooba Mufti.

“With a sole aim to save the party and stop them from handing over everything to BJP, I reluctantly had to make a coalition with the BJP in the state. Otherwise, I wasn’t willing to form the coalition with the party had reneged on the promises made to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed,” she said.

Omar Tweets…

“Last year at this very time they were defending her in the assembly and council. With her they were “honest, decent, hardworking” people & after they leave they become “garbage”. The world of politics is indeed a cruel world.”

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