UPA Govt's Hardline Attitude Due To Polls: APHC (A)
15 September 2004
The Times of India
Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference (Ansari) today said the UPA government's hard- line attitude on Kashmir is a part of its strategy to woo the voters in Maharashtra and other states which are going to elections next month. Former Hurriyat Conference chairman and prominent Shia cleric Moulvi Mohammed Abbaas Ansari said that the recent statements by foreign minister Natwar Singh and union home minister Shivraj Patil in which they put conditions for talks with separatists are a part of election strategy which new government is following. 'The government is facing tough situation because of the ensuing elections in Maharashtra and other states. That is why they have hardened their stand in a bid to woo voters by projecting themselves as nationalists which will not compromise on the national interests at any costs', he said. Ansari noted the UPA government is trying to demonize the talks process initiated by the previous government and adopting a hard-line attitude towards the resolution of Kashmir issue. He said there was no breakthrough on Kashmir in recent Indo-Pak foreign ministers talks because New Delhi did not want to take risk at this crucial stage as it could have been exploited by the opposition. 'They (centre) find it feasible to maintain status quo on Kashmir rather than taking any decision which could have gone in any way. But the vote bank politics is playing havoc with Kashmiris as they are victims of hostility', he said. Showering praises over former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, he termed him statesman capable of taking bold decisions. 'He was a man who could have taken bold decisions on Kashmir. He had the guts to feel the pulse and rise above petty politics and solve the issue for peace and prosperity', he said. Ansari added that his strategy to rope-in former deputy prime minister L K Advani who was considered as hawk in the talks process is itself an achievement. 'Had previous NDA government been in power, the situation would have been different. We would have reached a breakthrough on Kashmir', he said. Prominent shia cleric said that present UPA government lacks a statesman like figure who could take bold decisions on Kashmir. 'I do not find anybody in this government who will rise above politics and solve this issue. We need a statesman like Vajpayee who could deliver', he said.