‘People didn’t understand that she was made of the same mettle as Mufti Sahib

Amitabh Mattoo, advisor to former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti recently announced that he will “go off Facebook and other social media to meditate and reflect and write”. In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Mattoo, who was also a close aide to Mufti spoke about the outgoing Chief Minister and the need for re-election in the state. He also discussed power corridors of New Delhi and the way it exercises power.

Speaking about the Mehbooba Mufti and her leadership style, Mattoo said that not reaching out beyond the party and beyond the people of the valley in Jammu and Kashmir is only thing can be criticized. He said, “People didn’t understand that she was made of the same mettle as Mufti sahib. But there wasn’t enough reaching out. Reaching out to everyone. To the powers that be and the corridors of power. She was not comfortable with dealing with, I would imagine, the intelligence agencies but anyone who knows Kashmir knows that if you don’t deal with intelligence agencies, you do so at your own peril because that’s the instrument that New Delhi often uses to carry out its policies and deliver its initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“So, that world which is often spooky, a world which is often subterranean, a world mostly made of men is not easy to reach out to and fit in because that is still a man’s world, very shadowy often not easy to fathom or easy to access specially for someone who’s ultimately a conservative Kashmiri woman, cosmopolitan in outlook, guided by the vision of larger ideals, democratic ideals and ideals of multiculturalism and diversity but as a person who has grown up in Kashmir,” he added.

Talking about the highly controversial split and why PDP wasn’t informed about it, he said, “I think, it is the nature of power and the way it is exercised in New Delhi now rather than a shabby treatment to the PDP. I think, the local unit of the BJP was probably caught off as much as any leader from the PDP. Power is centralized, there are few people who make decisions and often they leave others to package that decision. So, it’s that packaging which often comes across as shabby and not presentable enough.”

When asked about difference in opinions within the BJP itself regarding the split, Mattoo said “it’s a question of sensibilities”. According to him while Rajnath Singh is the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah is in the business of winning elections. “Amit Shah will obviously play up the differences and his main constituency, the BJP’s main constituency in J&K electoral is Jammu and Ladakh. So, they will want to try and emphasize that they pulled out for the sake of people in Jammu and Kashmir. Rajnath Singh, as Home Minister of India, can’t be identified as the leader of one little administrative province in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Responding to the urgency of restoring democracy in J&K, he said, “Ideally, I think in the minimum amount of time that we can do so, we should have a democratically elected government in place without resorting to machinations that New Delhi has often done so in the past which means that you don’t buy rig or influence the outcome.” 

“I say within the next few months, within the next six months, y before the parliamentary elections are done next spring, we should also see the flowering of spring in Jammu and Kashmir, flowering of a democratic spring in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.


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