SRINAGAR: Mehbooba Mufti, whose government collapsed after ally BJP withdrew the support on Monday, said Atal Behari Vajpayee was the only Prime Minister who reposed his trust in the people of Kashmir, “understood their emotions and their ego.” He credited him for offering Kashmir the first free and fair elections.
The audience included Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Dr Farooq Abdullah. In fact, Dr Abdullah also had an emotional speech in which he repeatedly insisted that if India has to grow and move forward, it has to belong to everybody. “Make it a country where love for each other will flow,” Dr Abdullh said, insisting, “Vajpayee ruled with a large heart and not authority and power.”
She shared the instance of her father telling Vajpayee that people in Kashmir are asking: “Whose government Delhi has decided to bring in Kashmir?” In his response, Vajpayee went to the Red Fort and made the announcement that eventually led to the free and fair polls. “That was the first election in 70 years which was not rigged,” she insisted.
Then, Vajpayee agreed to Mufti’s suggestion that without compromising on the territorial integrity of India, why talks cannot take place with Pakistan. He went to Lahore and got an assurance that Pakistan will not use her territory against India, from none other than the military ruler.
This initiative, she said, resulted in a ceasefire and even talks. “He believed in the fact that friends can be changed but not neighbors,” Mehbooba said. She hoped Vjapyee’s doctrine remains the guiding force for the policymaking on Kashmir. “He was BJP’s leader but for us, he was the Prime minister,” she said.
Earlier, speaking to the audience, Dr Abdullah said Vajpayee was large-hearted and he narrated the details of his visit to Kargil at a time when bombs were exploding. “He said India cannot be defeated and then he pointed towards the mountains and said – you will regret your doings,” Dr Abdullah said. “While visiting the spot of the atom bomb test in outskirts of Jodhpur, I asked Vajpayee Ji, why this bomb and he said – we are not using it against anybody but we want to tell the world that we have the power.”
“This country belongs to us and to you,” he asserted and insisted that while Vajpayee is physically not here, his soul will be around to see what you did to his dream of India. “Go and tell all your neighbors that we are not your enemies as Vajpayee had said.”
While concluding his speech, Dr Abdullah shouted slogans and sought a thundering response from the audience.