Despite praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership qualities and terming him the “man of the moment”, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday made it clear that “India is Indira Gandhi “ for her.
"To me, India is Indira Gandhi. When I was growing, she represented India for me. Maybe some people won't like it but she was the India," Mehbooba Mufti said in an apparent reference to Sangh Parivar's dislike for the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister further said that she was saddened to see the idea of India projected on television prime times that widens the gap between India and Kashmir.
Mehbooba added that she has not known this India projected in "hyperventilating" TV debates.
"I am sorry to say that the image of India which the (TV) anchors project is not what India is about, is not the India I know," she said while addressing the Jammu and Kashmir Conclave on "Understanding Kashmir: A Composite dialogue on Peace, Stability and the Way Forward" in New Delhi.
Mufti said Jammu and Kashmir, defying the two-nation theory that was based on religious divide, had aligned to a more secular and accommodative India where Hindus and Muslims pray together at shrine and statues of Hindu gods are being made by Muslim artisans.
"I want to see that India which cries, feels the pain of Kashmir. The India that embraced us on our terms. We are a diverse state with all kinds of multi-diversity of religion and everything. Kashmir is a mini India in India," Mufti said.
Strongly opposing any move to revoke Kashmir's special constitutional status, she said some people were talking "about our flag, sometimes about Article 370... which are very dear to the people of the state and they help preserve the state's unique identity".
Mufti said the government of India and the people of the country needed to do more to accommodate the aspirations of Kashmiris even as the sentiment of 'azadi' needed to be replaced with a "better idea".
She did not spell it out but spoke of more cross-border contacts between the people of divided Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister pinned her hopes on Prime Minister Modi for resolving the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
"I feel Modi is the man of the moment. He can become the man of history and his leadership is an asset which needs to be harnessed. And there has to be a way to work together and take Kashmir out of the mess," she said.
(With IANS inputs)