National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah, in his election campaign, is targeting the former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti of having brought the RSS to Kashmir while she is retaliating by accusing Omar of having paved the way for the entry of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the valley to raid the houses of separatists and leading businessmen in the alleged cases of terror-funding.
The NC and PDP are facing each other on all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir while they have left the two seats of Jammu for the Congress to contest against the BJP.
Omar accuses the PDP—BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba of having reversed the gains that the previous NC led government had achieved in containing terrorism and reviving tourism in Kashmir.
Mehbooba says that it was not the PDP but the NC that first of all aligned with the BJP when Omar was the minister of state for external affairs in the Vajpayee government. However, the NC chief, Farooq Abdullah, has clarified that the NC’s alliance with Vajpayee led NDA government was confined to the centre and “we did not allow the RSS or BJP to enter J&K”.
Both NC and PDP are drawing the attention of the people towards the “evils” that the rival party brought to the state while in alliance with the BJP.
Mehbooba says that when Farooq Abdullah made an alliance with the BJP, they introduced Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and gave away seven power projects to the centrally controlled NHPC. But when the PDP came into alliance with the BJP, we ensured that there was no tinkering with the special status of J&K and pleaded for removing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
On the other hand, Omar has hit back by accusing that Mehbooba had failed to protect the state’s flag and how could she have saved the special status that the Article 370 provides to J&K. She eroded the special status by letting the centre extend the GST to the state despite resistance from the NC. The new tax regime has affected hoteliers, craftsmen, marginal traders and other sectors, he alleged.
Mehbooba claims that it was the NC-Congress coalition government led by Omar in 2009 that brought NIA to the State. “Like POTA, NC, during its tenure, brought the NIA to the state and we were against the move at that time as well,” she said.
Showing affinity with the separatists, Mehbooba says that banning the Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF and also sealing properties of those accused in terror funding cases was not the solution of the crisis in J&K. She points out that the NC had in the past suggested that the Hurriyat leaders should be “dumped into the River Jhelum” but her father Mufti Sayeed persuaded the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to initiate talks with Pakistan and Kashmir based separatists.