Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today described PDP's alliance with BJP and the common minimum programme between the two parties as a "challenge" but said it was necessary for bringing out the state from the "morass".
She told the Assembly that PDP had entered into an alliance with BJP to seek national reconciliation on political and economic challenges confronting the state amid her hopes that "leaders at the Centre have understood the ground realities in J&K and they want to improve the situation", including in the context of revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Replying to a debate on the Motion of Thanks to Governor's Address, the PDP chief said that after the hung verdict in the 2014 Assembly polls, her party had received offers of alliance from National Conference and Congress but these were rejected as it would have proved to be a "disaster" for the state, like in 1987.
Describing PDP's alliance with BJP as a "challenge", she said the purpose of the tie-up was to catalyze reconciliation and confidence building within the state and across the Line of Control (LoC) to create an enabling environment for sustainable peace, all-round economic development and prosperity of J&K.
"I am here to fulfill the dream and vision of Mufti Sahab (her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad)... Our 'Agenda of Alliance' (between PDP and BJP) is a big challenge and if we fulfill it, implement if fully, I feel, we can take Jammu and Kashmir out from this morass," Mehbooba said.
"I assure this august House that we will continue to pursue implementation of this agenda with unflinching consistency to address the enormous challenges confronting J&K," she said.
She said the 'Agenda of Alliance' outlines a comprehensive roadmap for the coalition government and it would be implemented in letter and spirit to address the challenges confronting the state.
"I am confident that if we succeed in implementing the Agenda of Alliance, it will take care of most of the problems facing J&K, faced as it is with decades-old political uncertainty, economic deprivation, development deficit, unfulfilled aspirations and mounting unemployment," she said.
She said Sayeed had a vision that given the decisive mandate enjoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Centre would take "effective and realistic steps" to address the political, economic and administrative challenges confronting the state.
"Mufti Sahab's vision was not only to bring the people of various regions within the state closer to each other, but to bridge the trust deficit between J&K and the rest of the country and that is why he joined hands with BJP to carry through this enterprise of hope," she said.
"It is not about the BJP and PDP, it is about an inclusive government which will strive towards pulling J-K out of the morass," she added.
Lashing out at opposition National Conference (NC), Mehbooba said when that party entered into an alliance first with BJP and then with Congress, they had "no agenda except distribution of ministries and greed of chair.
"But we have a clear agenda, the elements of which have been even endorsed by the Congress in the PM's Working Groups reports formed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We can take out state from its present turmoil if we all join hands to implement this agenda of alliance."
Justifying her party's alliance with BJP, the Chief Minister said the mandate thrown up by the 2014 Assembly polls was seen as a historic opportunity by her late father to connect the culturally-distinct Jammu region and Kashmir Valley.
"When (NC founder and former Chief Minister) Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1947 joined hands with India, it was a tough decision," she said.
"When Sayeed joined politics, there were slogans of 'plebiscite' and even the mention of mainstream politics was seen as blasphemy. But my father was impressed by the composite culture of India and its democratic values during his student days in Aligarh. He could see how the poor and marginalized were empowered to chose or dethrone the Prime Minister which impressed him," Mehbooba said.
She said Sayeed was a "far-sighted person and his decision to join a democratic party was right one."
Mehbooba said the mandate of 2014 Assembly elections gave few options.
"We could have avoided the mandate of Jammu. Congress and NC offered us support and I am thankful for that. But the mandate from Jammu was strong. Could we have overlooked the mandate of people of RS Pura who had elected Sayeed? We could have done it for the sake of chair but we kept the interest of J-K in mind," she said.
The Chief Minister said the decision to ally with the NC and Congress could have "proved a disaster" for the state and "would have repeated the situation of 1987" (when the allegations of rigging of polls by NC led to birth of militancy).
"(Hardline Hurriyat chairman) Syed Ali Geelani and (another Hurriyat leader) Abdul Gani Lone were part of this Assembly but they chose a different path because the mandate of 1987 was dishonored. It was not an election. It was a conspiracy and the repeat of such conspiracy could have pushed the state into chaos," the PDP leader said.
"Much blood has been spilled since 1947 in J&K. We did not want to spill more by disrespecting the mandate," she said.
Mehbooba said the issues like unshackling the potential of the state by opening more points on the LoC, banking facilities, strengthening of Article 370 and wresting land from the security forces have been a part of mainstream discourse for decades.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, former RBI Governor C Rangarajan, M K Rasgotra and N C Saxena were part of the Working Groups appointed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had agreed on all the political, economic, security and cross-LoC confidence building measures.
"They unequivocally agreed that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has to go and it will go. We have hope that the leaders at the Centre have understood the ground realities in J&K and they want to improve the situation," the Chief Minister said.
She said such issues have been raised by all the political parties in the state at some point in time, but they had failed in making any forward movement on those issues.
Attacking NC which ruled the state from 2009 to 2014, she said, "your criticism of PDP-BJP coalition government rings hollow given your own past performances. You have done nothing to consolidate the peace efforts initiated between 2002 and 2005 under the leadership of Sayeed.
"We are again starting from zero and by raising these issues now, you are trying to vitiate the atmosphere. If we are doing anything good for the state, you should support us."
She alleged that the NC leadership had "bartered" the resources of the state for power.
"When Omar Sahab became the External Affairs Minister, what was his agenda? You joined hands with the BJP and what did you get in return? You gave away our power projects in lieu of power and chair.
"You should tell this House why you joined hands with them at that time. Show me a document that you had with the BJP or the Congress that your party will deliver on such and such issue. We had a charter for 2002-2005 government and we have a similar agenda in this government," Mehbooba said.
She said the opposition was "belittling" the government's efforts for women welfare as she contended that the introduction of special buses for females and women police stations will empower womenfolk.
"I have travelled in buses. A girl's alleged molestation in Handwara resulted in five killings. Thousands will die if the veil is lifted from the problems faced by women in public transport," she said.
She, however, began her address by thanking NC leader Omar Abdullah for support after the demise of her father on January 7.
"When everyone was pointing fingers at me, Omar sahab understood my situation and supported me and I thank him for that," she said.