The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently ended its power-sharing alliance with the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has spoken about the controversial Article 35A, its ties with the BJP and more.
In an exclusive interview with the Hindustan Times, Mufti asserted that PDP is swiftly making common cause with arch-rival National Conference (NC) on boycotting local elections over Article 35A, which guarantees special rights to people of the state. She further said that her party will make every sacrifice to preserve Article 35 A of the Constitution, which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
"During my government, I made every effort from engaging top-notch lawyers to raising political awareness in the country and the state about the need for protection of Article 35 A. In future also, whatever will be required, me and my party will do (it) for protecting the special status of the state," she said on Monday, September 17.
Mufti further said that the issue of Article 35A is beyond compromises. "Our message to the Centre is loud and clear: Keep your hands off. This is off-limits; don't play with this," she told the publication.
The former chief minister said even while sharing power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the PDP continued to push for its core agenda like protection of Article 370, dialogue with all stakeholders in the state and resumption of Indo-Pak peace process.
According to The Indian Express, Mufti further spoke about the dynamics of power politics in Kashmir that has made it difficult for the centre to reconcile with the special status that the state has held for more than 70 years. Calling scrapping of Article 35A a violation of the agreement, Mufti said that the main purpose of PDP-BJP alliance was to bridge the growing gap between people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"Kashmir aligned with India under certain conditions. Article 35A is part and parcel of this relationship. Why should somebody challenge it in court? The Centre should pass a direction that this (Article 35A) is off limits. Why should this sword dangle over our heads all the time?" she added.
Protests by the separatists, business and trade bodies and civil society organisations have rocked the Valley over the past few months against petitions demanding that Article 35A be repealed.